A WATCHDOG which shines a light on what life is like on the inside is looking for new volunteers.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Durham Prison, which is responsible for ensuring standards of decency are maintained, is recruiting for new members.

Members of the organisation, which also investigates prisoner complaints have full access to the prison as a means of making sure it is run properly.

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Christopher Hutchinson, who has been on the board for two years said: “We listen to any of their concerns and should it be necessary we will take up their concerns with the management of the prison.

"It’s very satisfying that you can see some tangible achievements in the role.

"It’s a very interesting role and it’s a very challenging role and from a personal point of view I believe I’m serving the community."

The work of board members is far reaching and ranges from things like monitoring the quality of the food which is served up to programmes tackling drug and alcohol dependencies and the availability of educational classes.

New members are giving training and support from a mentor for the first year and are expected to commit four half days per month, which are flexible.

Members are also put on a rota to attend any serious incidents, including prison riots and the death of inmates, to observe procedures.

Chairman of the Durham IMB John Davidson said: "We welcome all applications from within the diverse communities the prison serves, and are particularly keen to receive applications from women as the board is currently underrepresented.

"Candidates must demonstrate effective communication, are non judgemental, and demonstrate an ability to listen and challenge."

Applications open on Monday, April 24 and close on Wednesday, May 31. For further information visit www.imb.org.uk/join-now/current-vacancies/