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What is the Independent Monitoring Board?

Maghaberry and Magilligan Prisons and Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre and Prison each have an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), (formally known as the Board of Visitors).

Members of each IMB are drawn from the general public. Appointed by the Secretary of State, IMB members act as independent observers of all aspects of the prison regime and as such have free access at all times to the prison to which they are appointed. The work is voluntary and unpaid.

A rota of IMB members ensures that each prison is visited on a weekly basis.

If you have a request or problem, you have an entitlement under the Prison Rules to speak with a member of the IMB.


What do they do?

An IMB is appointed for each prison in Northern Ireland by the Secretary of State under the Prison Act (Northern Ireland) 1953. The IMB deal with a variety of issues and are required to:

  • satisfy themselves regarding the treatment of prisoners, the state of the prison premises and the facilities available to prisoners to allow them to make purposeful use of their time;
  • consider requests and complaints made by prisoners;
  • report matters of concern to the appropriate Governor and when necessary to the Secretary of State;
  • examine the treatment of prisoners including provision for their health care and other welfare while in prison;
  • ensure they are informed and visit prisoners on restriction of association; and
  • attend some Adjudications of prisoners who have been charged with an offence against Prison Rules.

If you wish to speak with a member of the IMB you can:

  • ask your class officer to have your name put in the Applications Book and contact the Secretariat. You do not need to give a reason. The Secretariat will arrange for a member of the IMB to visit you when they are next in the prison;
  • speak directly to an IMB Member when you meet them in the prison during rota visits;
  • write a letter in confidence to the IMB; or
  • telephone the IMB Secretariat on 028 9044 3998. The Secretariat will arrange for a member of the IMB to visit you when they are next in the prison.

How can the Independent Monitoring Board help you?

Any matter you raise will be dealt with fairly and independently from the Prison Service. If your request cannot be dealt with immediately, it will be taken forward on your behalf with whoever is responsible. Although IMB members are always willing to see you about any matter and without any conditions, it is best if you to try to resolve the matter in the first instance with the class officer.

The IMB will respond to your request as soon as possible, depending on how difficult your problem is and the time needed by the IMB to obtain an answer.