Inside every prison, immigration removal centre and some short term holding facilities at airports, there is an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) .
IMB members are independent, unpaid and work an average of 2-3 days per month. They are ordinary members of the public from all walks of life who monitor the day-to-day life in their local prison or removal centre and ensure that proper standards of care and decency are maintained. They are unpaid volunteers, and not influenced by the prison establishment.
Members have unrestricted access to their local prison or immigration detention centre at any time and can talk to any prisoner or detainee they wish to, out of sight and hearing of a members of staff if necessary. Conversations with the IMB are confidential. A typical monitoring visit, for example, might include time spent in the kitchens, workshops, accommodation blocks, recreation areas, healthcare centre and chaplaincy.
Board members also play an important role in dealing with problems inside the establishment. If a prisoner has an issue that they have been unable to resolve through the usual internal channels, a confidential request to see a member of the IMB can be made via special “post boxes” on each wing. Problems might include concerns over lost property, visits from family or friends, special religious or cultural requirements, or even serious allegations such as bullying.
The IMB also ensure that if something serious happens at the establishment, for example a riot or a death in custody, representatives of the board attend and observe the way in which the situation is handled. The boards produce annual reports on each prison, most of which are published, click here for the 2018 reports