The Ford Independent Monitoring Board, known as the IMB, is tasked with holding the prison to account – highlighting both its successes and failings.
The team is manned entirely by volunteers from all walks of life.
Now, the board is appealing to residents from across Arun to join it to help keep the district’s jail in check.
Board member Geoffrey Archer said: “The UK prison system is far from perfect, but places like Ford do at least try to turn men away from crime. And the system allows Independent Monitoring Boards to be the eyes and ears of the public, ready to make a noise when things aren’t right.”
The team is responsible for producing an annual report on the prison’s running, to the Prime Minister.
Applicants need to be non-judgemental, interested in people and the criminal justice system.
Mr Archer added: “A jail holding 500 offenders ranging from murderers to fraudsters is not an easy community to manage.
“The subject of prisons provokes strong feelings in people. There are many who believe that criminals should be locked up, fed bread and water and have the key thrown away.
“But that’s not what successive British governments have decided to do. For better or worse they’ve adopted the policy that in addition to being a punishment, detention in prison should be an opportunity to try to persuade law-breakers to lead honest lives in future.”
There are 14 members of the team at Ford who all work to a rota, with two of them visiting the prison each week.
They have the right to go anywhere in the jail, unaccompanied by staff, and to speak to any prisoner or any prison employee.
Board members can also give support and advice to individual offenders facing issues which the prison’s own complaints process has not managed to resolve.
Full training is given to board members.
For those keen to find out more information about the role and about the IMB, visit www.imb.org.uk
Anyone interested in applying to join the board at Ford should write to Carl Fairbrother, Independent Monitoring Board, HMP Ford, Arundel, BN18 0BX, for further details.