WORMWOOD Scrubs prison has been a familiar local landmark since 1890, but few residents know what goes behind the tall iron gates. Or that there are more than 1,200 men locked up inside.
Although there are many repeat offenders in this B category prison, many of the inmates can be sad individuals who have had little chance in life and may have drug or mental health problems. Regardless of individual circumstances, no prisoner has an easy time inside and, as a result of the financial cutbacks, their lives are likely to become increasingly difficult.
As a civilised country we must always ensure that prisoners, whatever their crime, are treated humanely. It is the key reason why by law every prison has to have a board of independent monitors, known as the IMB. We keep a close eye on what goes on inside the prison and raise our concerns with senior staff. Once a year we also write a report for the minister of prisons.
The board is made up of individuals of all ages, races and views. We work across a wide area from issues over food to allegations of bullying and racism. The IMB board at Wormwood Scrubs is currently looking for new members, including those from the black and minority ethnic communities, who could volunteer for about two days a month to be part of our team.
It is fascinating and rewarding work in an area of life that is kept hidden from general society. You need to have common sense, inner confidence, tenacity and the ability to work both on your own and as part of a team. A financial loss allowance and expenses are paid, but there is no salary.
If you are interested, please write to the address below telling us about yourself and why you would like to join.
ANGELA LOW Chairwoman IMB Wormwood
PO Box 757 Du Cane Road London W12 OAE