Four Lancashire jails want volunteers to observe life behind bars

Ever wondered what life is really like inside Britain's prisons?

By Brian Ellis
Monday, 9th May 2022, 3:45 pm

Volunteers are being sought to help monitor what goes on behind bars at four of Lancashire's jails.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) is appealing for people to come forward to help make sure inmates at Preston, Wymott, Kirkham and Lancaster Farms are being treated fairly.

Although the work is unpaid, expenses for travel, childcare and loss of earnings are available.

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Preston Prison.

One member said: “It could be the most rewarding thing you have ever done.

"You can make a real difference to prison life, not just in responding to an individual prisoner’s request or complaint, but also by raising concerns about everything from crumbling buildings to people being kept in solitary confinement for too long.”

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Nigel Rourke, who is part of the IMB team at Lancaster Farms, added: "You see the criminal justice system from the inside and work as part of a really dedicated IMB team.

HMP Wymott between Leyland and Chorley.

"Anyone over 18 can apply. Prisoners come from all backgrounds and so should our members.”

The IMB says volunteering gives volunteers an insight into a world that few people see.

The board is looking for people from all walks of life who live locally (within 30 miles) to join them.

A spokesperson said: "Members monitor activity across the establishment, talk to prisoners and make sure they are treated fairly - and are given the support they need to stop reoffending and rebuild their lives.

Kirkham Open Prison.

"Every year the Board writes a report that goes directly to the Prisons Minister.

"Successful applicants have full access to the prison in order to undertake the role. Comprehensive training and support is provided.

"Monitors in 117-plus IMBs across England and Wales come from all walks of life including students, firefighters, small business owners, teachers, health professionals and people who are looking to strengthen their skills as part of a life or career change.

"Key qualities needed include analysis, decision making, communication and teamworking skills, and a commitment to independence and inclusion, as well as an open-minded approach.

Lancaster Farms Prison

"Candidates undergo a selection and vetting process, which can take a number of months, ahead of being formally appointed by Ministers in line with the Government’s public appointments process."

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer can get more information from: