North Sea Camp feature: Ever wondered who governs the governors?

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JUST as staff at North Sea Camp do their best to keep an eye on prisoners, there is somebody to keep an eye on them, and make sure everything is running as it should at the Freiston facility.

Independent Monitoring Board members are allowed to sit in on any meetings which occur involving the prison, its staff and the prisoners, and are allowed to visit at any time to make sure everything is running smoothly and there are no concerns.

An annual report is then sent to the Prisons Minister.

Chairman Steve Knox (pictured), said: “The governors don’t tell us what to do, we sit in on meetings to monitor them and make sure the needs of every individual are being provided for.

“Our report is what some governors dread.”

So far, Mr Knox believes this year’s report will be more positive than last, and said things have been moving on really well.

As a member of the IMB he looks at the proximity to children and victims during risk assessments for day releases and town or family visits and also gets to meet the employers and families of offenders to find out what they think.

He added: “The people that employee them, for example in charity shops where some of the lads here work, have nothing but good words and admiration for them.”

He said that when prisoners abscond, he felt the prison wasn’t always given a chance to explain why to the courts – especially in terms of when it is allegedly related to a drug problem or sharing cells with certain types of criminals.

“The prison’s not always asked why we think they have gone,” he added.

When asked about peoples’ perception of alleged drug problems in the prison he said North Sea Camp is doing all it can on an issue he believes is a problem wherever people go.

“I think it’s more prevalent here because it’s an open prison, but it’s wrong to say it’s happening in North Sea Camp only,” he added.

“There are different time checks which focus on different people.”

He also said that if prisoners felt uncomfortable with their roommates they can always apply for a room change.

The IMB currently consists of six members and needs more to bring it up to number a round 12-14.

He said members must not think they were in a management role but an observational one.

They will be given training and must be able to give at least two days a month.

To volunteer call 07968486665.