Could you help to monitor standards inside this Norfolk prison?
Archant © 2008
Prison is not usually a place you would expect to set foot in unless you get on the wrong side of the law.
But now a Norfolk jail is looking for upstanding members of the community to make regular visits – to help monitor standards inside.
Every prison is required by law to have an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) in place to check on the jail’s performance and how prisoners are being treated.
As well as making regular visits, Wayland Prison IMB members produce an annual report about standards inside the jail in Griston, near Watton.
They are called whenever there are major incidents, such as disturbances and assaults.
The volunteers also deal with any complaints from the Category C jail’s 1,000 prisoners, 100 of whom are serving life sentences, about how they are being treated.
HMP Wayland’s IMB is now looking for between three and five people to help continue its work, which chairman Trish Phillips said forms part of upholding Article Three of the European Convention of Human Rights – that “no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
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She explained: “Basically, our job is to make sure prisoners are being taken care of in a fair and humane manner.
“We’re a statutory body appointed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and if a prison doesn’t have one, essentially it has to shut down.”
IMB members have the right to go anywhere within the jail and speak to whoever they want or need to.
Mrs Phillips added: “There’s a system where prisoners can contact us whenever they want to and we will look into their concerns.
“We will often go to see them to talk to them and get more information.
“That all gives us a very clear of what’s going on in the prison.”
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Mrs Phillips said many IMB members are guided by the principle behind the famous Fyodor Dostoyevsky quote that: “The degree of civilisation in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.”
She added: “We’re all people who want the best welfare for everyone.
“The more you get involved, you more you realise what goes on in a prison.”
However she stressed no formal qualifications are required for the role.
“You have to have the desire to help people – that’s all you need. It’s not really rocket science,” she said.
Individuals are usually expected to make about three or four visits per month.
For more information or to apply, visit www.imb.org.uk