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Making a difference

Our work has a real impact across several key areas.

1. On prisoners and those in immigration detention

The IMBs role in helping to resolve even apparently minor issues impacts directly on the daily life and experience of prisoners and detained people, where everything they have, do or need is controlled by others.

2. On individual prisons or immigration detention facilities

Regular meetings with prison and immigration detention managers are an opportunity to raise the systemic issues that arise from monitoring observations. This reflects back to managers what is actually happening, which may be different from what they hope or expect. The more accurate and evidence-based the reporting, the more likely it is to be acted on.

3. On the wider prison and immigration detention system

We sometimes uncover issues that can’t be, or aren’t, dealt with effectively by local managers.

If it’s an issue in a prison, we can escalate it to the prison group director, the director general of prisons or the director of the youth custody service. 

If it’s in an immigration detention facility, we go through the centre managers to the Home Office director of detention and escorting services.

4. On government ministers

Each Board has a statutory duty to provide an annual report to either the Prisons Minister or the Immigration Minister. Boards can also contact the relevant minister at any time with important matters that affect both individual establishments or national services as a whole, such as:

  • potential breaches of human rights or statutory obligations
  • resource issues that affect the whole service
  • the impact of legislation or national policies
  • the need for action by other departments, such as health or benefits

5. On the public and Parliament

Our work is part of public and parliamentary debate. That’s why Boards’ annual reports, which are publicly available, are so important, highlighting both concerns and progress against previous recommendations. The national annual reports for prisons and immigration detention facilities collate the key themes raised in individual annual reports.

There has been increasing media interest in our reports, drawing public attention to the concerns that are being raised. IMBs also provide both written and oral evidence to parliamentary inquiries, drawing on published reports and real-time information collated from relevant Boards.