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How to apply

Check you are eligible to apply

To volunteer with us, you must:

  • be over 18 years old
  • commit to making around 2 to 3 visits a month (this is likely to be more during induction period)
  • have the right to work in the UK
  • live close to your volunteering location, usually within 30 miles or a travel time of 45 minutes (this could be more in certain locations)
  • declare any potential conflicts of interest, for example any family connection with the prison or immigration detention facility, or business involvement in supplying a service to the establishment you are applying to
  • declare criminal records (although this won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming a volunteer)

If you have any concerns about a possible conflict, or you have a criminal record, please contact the IMB by email imbrecruitment@justice.gov.uk and we would be happy to discuss this with you.

Your quick guide to the application process

Find a vacancy and apply online

Take a look at the current vacancies and apply through this website. If there are no opportunities to volunteer near you, register your interest to be the first to hear about future vacancies.

Tour the prison or immigration detention facility

You will be invited to go on a tour of the facility you have applied to. This is a great chance to see the environment and decide if this is the right role for you.

Attend an interview for the role

If successful we’ll invite you to attend an interview, usually with a panel of 3 people. You will be assessed on key qualities to see whether volunteering for the IMB is a good fit for you.

IMB members need to process lots of information and make balanced conclusions about the welfare of people in custody
Vic Lee, retired dental surgeon

What qualities do you need?

You do not need any formal qualifications to be volunteer with the IMB.

There are some key qualities we look for in volunteers:

  • analysis and decision-making
  • commitment and perseverance
  • communication
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • integrity and independence
  • teamwork and development

You can find out more about these qualities in our guide to applying to the IMB.

What happens next?

We aim to process applications within 15 working days of the date the recruitment campaign closes.

If successful, you will have to go through security clearance. IMB members have full and unrestricted access to their local prison or immigration detention facility at any time, day or night. For this reason all our members must be security cleared and this can take some time depending on the level of clearance required for your particular establishment. Read more about security clearance requirements.

The whole appointments process usually takes around 6 months, although we try to ensure times are kept to a minimum and keep applicants informed throughout the process. We understand that the wait can be frustrating but we hope that you understand why this is necessary.

If you wish to make a complaint about how we handled your application, please follow our complaints process.

Virtual events

Hear from current volunteers at our next virtual events – 10 April 5-6:00pm (prisons), 17 April 5-6:00pm (immigration detention estate) and 23 April 5-6:00pm (prisons)

Our virtual open evenings are a great opportunity to hear directly from IMB members.

You will have the chance to hear members talk about their experiences, ask questions and learn more about what the role consists of from those who are currently volunteering.

Book your place:

Find volunteering vacancies

See if there’s a volunteering opportunity in a prison or immigration detention facility near you.

See current vacancies