exactly what the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Morton
Hall Prison near Lincoln would like you to do.
They are currently looking to recruit 2 new members and are
keen to break down some of the stereotypes traditionally associated
with joining a prison monitoring board.
you help resolve some of the conflicts that arise in a women's
that our only experience of prisons to date was watching Bad Girls
and Porridge, BBC Lincolnshire decided to take a trip to Morton
Hall to find out a bit more about the prison and what the IMB do.
few facts about Morton Hall...
Hall is a female, semi-open prison - that is the prisoners
there are considered very low security risk, but still need
some constraints to prevent them from absconding.
population there is around 350 and they live in 5 modern
residential units - most are small en-suite, single rooms.
7% of all prisoners in the UK are female.
70% of the prison population at Morton Hall are foreign
prisons are graded from 1 to 4 and Morton Hall is graded
level 3 which is above average.
got a very low level of drug use and also a very low level
of recorded assaults.
is the IMB and what do they do?
It is essentially the IMB's job to see that life in the prison is
fair and that the prisoners are being looked after, educated and
being guided towards resettlement.
out more we spoke to Board Member, Michael Worth who explained the
Worth, a member of the Morton Hall Independent Monitoring Board
monitor what happens in a prison. We can't directly decide what
happens, but we can effect it by responding to what we see, by talking
to prisoners, taking applications from prisoners - where a prisoner
actually writes down what they feel is an injustice or a problem
which they are not getting resolved within the system. They apply
to see someone from the board and we then talk to them, find out
what's been happening and what we can do to resolve it."
IMB are also there for the prison staff "Prisoner issues can
be influenced by staffing issues. We don't see it as two sides -
we're here for everybody." Michael explained.
members have an unfettered right to enter the prison 7 days a week,
they can go anywhere in the prison, talk to any prisoner on request
and can see any bit of information that passes through the prison.
"Very little can be kept from us and very little should be
kept from us."
you get a combination of a good strong board and a good governor
then there's a lot that you can achieve together, so we're not
fighting against each other, we're actually working in partnership."
Worth, Morton Hall IMB
that keep the IMB busy can be anything from mental health problems
to parental issues and what happens when the prisoners are released.
Hall also has a large population of foreign nationals and that in
itself can raise a number of issues from language difficulties to
cultural clashes and even dietary issues.
are they looking for?
went on to explain why the board are looking for new members. "The
current board do a very good job, but with increasing numbers in
the prison we are looking at recruiting another 2 board members
over the next 6 months." And to reflect the changes in the
prison population, the board are hoping to attract a younger and
more diverse cross section of the local community.
IMBs might be considered to be the preserve of white, middle class
males. Michael explained why he thinks this may have arisen:
think it is a circular argument - in recruitment you tend to recruit
mirror images of yourself. And in the past the board has been predominantly
male membership. Some of that is to do with the history of Morton
Hall as it used to be a male open prison. But now it is necessary
for the board to reflect a wider and more diverse range."
over 18 is eligible to join the IMB of a prison and the main prerequisites
are a level of maturity and a bit of free time.
who works for a voluntary group when they recruit, tends to minimise
the amount of time required in order to initially attract people.
The reality is the minimum you could get away with is about 3 half
days a month. But that is flexible.
happens with most people is that they enjoy the experience, they
realise that what they're doing can actually help. They try to spend
as much time here as possible."
week there are two board members on call. Those two members could
be called in by a prisoner at any time if a severe situation occurs.
They would also need to pay one visit each during that week to deal
with applications and deal with their other duties.
board need people who are comfortable dealing with a whole range
of different people from 18 through to over 60, and and who are
sensitive to the issues of those different people. They need to
be able to listen and to respond reasonably and to be able to create
an empathy with the people that they are dealing with.
the big question has to be why would anyone do it? What could make
someone like me or you give up their valuable free time?
will I get out of it?
apart from the sense of satisfaction at making a difference in society
many people find that the training they receive as a board member
can be very useful in other aspects of their lives.
asked Michael why he enjoyed being a member of the board:
is a bit of a cliché, but you do get out of it what you put
in. I look forward to coming here. The day I stop looking forward
to coming through the gates I'll stop doing the job."
the sound of joining the IMB?
To find out more about applying for the IMB at Morton Hall
contact the Clerk to the IMB by calling 01522 666707
or write to:
to the IMB
HMP Morton Hall