Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) – National Chair

Body: Independent Monitoring Boards
Appointing Department: Ministry of Justice
Sector: Judicial, Prison & Policing
Location: London
Skills required: Regulation
Number of Vacancies: 1
Remuneration: The IMB National Chair currently receives a non-pensionable remuneration of £400 per day
Time Requirements: Up to 12 days per month

Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    16/01/2023 at 11:00

  • Panel Sift

    February (TBC)

  • Final Interview Date

    April (TBC)

  • Announcement

    June (TBC)


Assessment Panel

Vacancy Description

Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) provide statutory, independent monitoring of the treatment and care of prisoners and detainees on behalf of Ministers and the public. They monitor prisons and Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales. IMBs also monitor the Immigration Detention Estate which comprises immigration removal centres and short term holding facilities. IMBs operate independently of Government and are part of the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism, under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT).

There are currently around 1088 IMB members, who are unpaid public appointees, making them one of the largest volunteer workforces in the criminal justice system. The size of each Board depends on factors such as the size of the establishment that is being monitored.

IMBs’ responsibilities for prisons are set out in the Prison Act 1952, the Prison Rules 1999, and for the immigration estate in the Detention Centre Rules Part VI 2001. They include making visits, hearing any complaint or request from prisoners or detainees and inquiring into any report made to them. The Board also makes an annual report to the Secretary of State concerning the state of the establishment, including any advice they consider appropriate, how well the establishment has met the standards and requirements placed on it and what impact these have on those in its custody.

Further information about IMBs can be found in here.

Person Specification

The Chair will chair the Management Board, leading on setting strategic direction and ensuring that the IMBs effectively, efficiently, and independently discharge their statutory and other functions.  The IMB Management Board is responsible for developing and agreeing national strategies and policies, and the processes and systems that underpin the work of IMBs. IMB Management Board members are predominantly drawn from the IMB membership, with some external appointees.

The Chair is also the principal national media spokesperson and national liaison with Ministers, the Ministry of Justice, Parliament, HMPPS and partner organisations.

IMBs are supported nationally by a Secretariat drawn from civil servants from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and led by a CEO of Secretariat. The Chair also task-manages the CEO of Secretariat. The Secretariat is shared with the Lay Observers.

In the Prisons Strategy White Paper, the Ministry of Justice has committed to bringing forward legislation to combine the IMBs’ Management Board and Lay Observers’ National Council into a single Board under a single Chair – both of which are to be recognised in legislation. The National Chair will be responsible for leading this work together with the Chair of the Lay Observers’ National Council.

Therefore, whilst the length of tenure for this post is advertised as 3 years, this may be shorter if a legislative slot is obtained, and legislation is laid during this time.




Person specification and eligibility criteria

We are looking for an outstanding individual who will lead the IMBs at a time when strengthened independent scrutiny is high on the ministerial agenda.

The Chair is responsible for chairing the IMB Management Board, overseeing governance and ensuring that there are systems, policies and guidance to assist IMBs and members to perform their statutory responsibilities effectively and independently. Operationally independent of Government, the Chair will be expected to lead the IMBs and seek to ensure safety, humane treatment and rehabilitative work in prisons and immigration detention through regular engagement with senior government stakeholders in the Ministry of Justice, HMPPS and Home Office.


Essential criteria

Candidates will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Well-developed leadership, chairing and governance skills;
  • Ability to demonstrate a commitment to the fair and humane treatment of others;
  • A strong track record of driving forward cultural change and improvement in an environment where strong accountability is key;
  • Strong analytical skills, with the ability to produce es evidence-based reports,
  • Experience of building strategic partnerships and successful collaborative working relationships; and
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with the ability to engage capably and constructively with a wide range of stakeholder groups including Ministers, senior officials in Government, senior leads in the inspectorate/scrutiny/national preventive mechanism arena, parliamentarians and the media.


Desirable criteria

  • Evidence of valuing and promoting diversity;
  • An understanding of the Criminal Justice System and the particular opportunities and challenges faced by volunteers; and
  • Interest, knowledge and experience of issues faced by those in custody and those who manage prisoners/detainees on a day-to-day basis.


Additional Information

Tenure: Public appointments are offered on a fixed term basis. We do this to ensure that the leadership of our public bodies is regularly refreshed and that the IMBs can benefit from new perspectives and ideas. In line with the Governance Code on Public Appointments, there is a strong presumption that no individual should serve more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years.

The appointment will be for three years, this may be shorter if a legislative slot is obtained, and legislation is laid during this time.

Supporting-Documents- March 2022
Return to Search