Chair of the Independent Family Returns Panel

Body: Independent Family Returns Panel
Appointing Department: Home Office
Sector: Regulation
Location: Flexible within the United Kingdom
Skills required: Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: £500 per day
Time Requirements: The expected time commitment is 1-2 days per week


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

The IFRP is an expert committee, sponsored by the Home Office, that provides independent advice to the department on how best to safeguard children’s welfare during a family’s enforced return.

Helen Chamberlain was appointed interim chair in May 2020 and has been a member since August 2018.

Her previous roles have included Chief Superintendent and Head of Public Protection at Nottinghamshire Police.

Helen Chamberlain, Chair of the IFRP, said:

I’m delighted and honoured to have been permanently appointed as chair of the Independent Family Returns Panel.

We do a vital job in safeguarding children during a family’s return, and I look forward to continuing to provide advice on how best to ensure welfare needs are met.

The appointment follows the expiry of Paul Greenhalgh’s three year tenure as chair of the IFRP.

Date: 24/08/2020

View Announcement

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications


  • Panel Sift

    14 October 2019

  • Final Interview Date

    13 May 2020

  • Announcement

    24 August 2020

The Government has adapted the recruitment process around the UK’s coronavirus restrictions while ensuring a fair and open competition. This includes planning for remote interviews.


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

The Chair is appointed by the Home Secretary to oversee the operation of the Independent Family Returns Panel (‘the Panel’). The Chair has overall accountability for the Panel’s work and is responsible for overseeing the operation and output of the Panel, in collaboration with the Home Office Sponsorship Unit and Family Returns Unit. As the Panel Chair your key responsibilities will be to

  • providing effective leadership to:

    o      deliver the safeguarding objectives of the family returns policy; and

    o      manage the Panel’s operation to ensure the necessary level of safeguarding of children’s interests;

  • representing the Panel and its work to a wide audience, including ministers, stakeholder and interest groups, family representatives, immigration officials, the public and the media;


  • examining, and where appropriate, challenging how the Home Office manages family returns to ensure child safeguarding is considered in its planning;


  • ensuring the Panel operates under a presumption of openness, in so far as this does not interfere with necessary individual confidentiality requirements; and


  • conducting appraisals of Panel members.

Person Specification

Part One – Essential Criteria

Skills and experience

  • A successful track record of leading social welfare or children’s safeguarding issues in the public, private, or voluntary sector.
  • Evidence of leadership, providing direction to a team, delivering results through others and handling relationships with senior figures.
  • The ability to gain respect and keep the confidence of key stakeholders, including Ministers and senior government officials through effective communication and influencing skills (both oral and written).
  • Resilience and the ability to remain independent to achieve objectives in an environment of regular scrutiny by the media, the public, and others.
  • Strong written skills – including experience of or evidence of the ability to produce detailed written reports


  • Experience of balancing risks and making decisions about vulnerable people in an operational setting.
  •  Experience of working with children and families from diverse communities and backgrounds and in challenging contexts.


Part Two – Personal abilities and behaviours

  •  The confidence and ability to take overall accountability for the Panel’s work and representing the Panel when required before Government Ministers.
  •  The ability to recognise and draw appropriately on professional expertise.
  • Empathetic but decisive leadership that makes progress through consensus, on the basis of written and oral information/evidence.


Additional Information

The successful candidate will be required to have or be willing to obtain security clearance to Security Check (SC) level. Pre-appointment checks will also be undertaken on immigration and criminal convictions. It usually takes between 4-5 weeks to obtain the security clearance. The role will be offered on a conditional basis until the successful candidate has passed all checks.

How to Apply

If you wish to apply for this position, please supply the following by 23:00 on 30 September 2019:

  • A comprehensive CV setting out your career history and including details of any professional qualifications.
  • A short supporting statement (maximum two sides A4, minimum 11 font) giving evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for the role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the experience, qualities and skill areas identified in the person specification.


  • In addition, please also complete and return via email the forms at Annex A, relating to referees, diversity, nationality, political activity and conflicts of interest.

Completed applications should be emailed to

Annex-B-Supporting-Documentation-2019 (7)
190822 - IFRP Chair - Candidate Pack FINAL
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