Chair of the Lay Observers’ National Council

Body: Prison Escort Custody Services Lay Observers
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sector: Prison & Policing
Location: The Lay Observers’ secretariat is based in central London. Meetings will require the post holder to come to London at regular intervals.
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The role is expected to be undertaken on a voluntary basis and is therefore unremunerated. Reasonable standard travel expenses will be payable.
Time Requirements: Up to 96 days a year (eight days per month). This can be flexible

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    19/03/2018 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date


  • Announcement


Interview date to be confirmed


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Lay Observers are volunteers appointed by the Secretary of State under the Criminal Justice Act 1991.
They form the membership of an Independent National Council and sit alongside a number of other criminal justice scrutiny bodies.

Lay Observers monitor the escort of prisoners who are being moved between courts, prisons and police stations. The National Council shares regular intelligence from monitoring visits with courts and escort contractors and reports annually to the Secretary of State on its findings.

Lay Observers are also members of the UK National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) as required by the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). OPCAT is an international human rights treaty designed to strengthen protection for people deprived of their liberty and aims to prevent ill-treatment though establishing a system of visits or inspections to all places of detention. The Chair of the Lay Observers will be expected to participate in UK NPM meetings and will contribute to the NPM annual report.

With the recent Ministerial focus on independent scrutiny, this is an exciting time to join the Lay Observers. We are looking for an experienced leader to strengthen existing national governance arrangements and increase membership.

Person Specification


  • There must be no employment restrictions, or time limit on your permitted stay in the UK. You should normally have been resident in the United Kingdom for at least three years prior to your application.
  • You should not be employed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) or employed in the UK civil service.
  • You should not sit in any capacity on any of the MoJ’s Arms’ Length Bodies.

Essential criteria

Candidates will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A commitment to fair and humane treatment and to the value of diversity and equality.
  • Strategic vision: an ability to manage change and well developed organisational and
  • management skills.
  • Leadership skills: an ability to inspire and command the confidence of others.
  • Experience of building successful collaborative working relationships and an
  • ability to demonstrate highly developed negotiating skills.
  • High level analytical skills and written and oral communication skills.
  • An ability to engage with senior stakeholders.

The following criteria, although not essential, will be taken into account by the selection panel.

Desirable criteria

  • An understanding of working with volunteers
  • Interest, knowledge or experience of issues faced by those in custody and those who manage prisoners/detainees on a day to day basis
  • Experience in management and governance
  • A high level of achievement in the applicant’s particular area of expertise.

Additional Information

Please quote ref: PAT150044-LayObservers-CHAIR

How to Apply

To make an application, please send:

  • A CV (maximum two sides of A4) detailing your qualifications, employment history and any appointments or offices you hold. Please also provide your preferred contact number and email address.
  • A personal statement (maximum two sides of A4) providing evidence against the role criteria and your suitability for the post, including evidence of leadership qualities and a vision for the organisation. Please consider the role and criteria carefully in preparing your statements. Information from Advisory Assessment Panels indicates that applications which offer specific and tailored examples against the criteria, making clear the candidate’s role in achieving an outcome are often the strongest. Structuring the statement around the criteria using relevant headings also aids clarity.

Supporting Documents

Please also complete and return the following supporting documents:

  • Potential conflicts of interest: You should declare any actual or potential conflict of interest. The Advisory Assessment Panel may wish to explore these further with you if you are shortlisted for interview. Conflicts might arise from a variety of sources such as financial interests or share ownership, membership of, or association with, particular bodies or the activities of relatives or partners. If you need further advice, please contact Amira Aufogul at
  • note of public appointments – please list any appointments currently held;
  • referee details – please give names/contact details of two referees (who will be contacted if you are shortlisted for interview);
  • the political activity declaration form – in line with the Governance Code for Public Appointments, details of any declared activity will be made public if you are appointed; and
  • the equal opportunities monitoring form – information is requested for monitoring purposes only and plays no part in the selection process. It will be kept confidential and will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel.

Please send your CV, personal statement and supporting documents to: quoting reference PAT150044-LayObservers-CHAIR in the subject line of your email. We will acknowledge receipt.

If you have any questions about any aspects of this post, you are welcome to contact Sally Grocott at or call 07970 307 053.

Supporting documents (2017-june 17)
lay observers chair - mar 18
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