Lay Observers are independent, unpaid public appointees and work an average of 2-3 days per month. Their role is to provide independent oversight of how people detained in court cells and cellular vehicles are cared for and their access to justice.

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About us

Lay Observers play an important role in the justice system by monitoring the welfare and access to justice of people being brought to court and held in court custody. They are appointed by the Secretary of State under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 (CJA 1991) to provide independent oversight of how people detained in court cells and cellular vehicles are cared for and their access to justice.

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Latest news

  • National Chair’s tenure extended

    The Secretary of State has today confirmed a year’s extension to John Thornhill’s tenure as National Chair of the Lay Observers from 1 June 2022 until 31 May 2023. John Thornhill said: “I am pleased to have been re-appointed as Chair of the Lay Observers for another year. This is an important year for the … Read more >

  • Monitoring Places of Detention During COVID-19: NPM Report

    Today the National Preventative Mechanism publishes their 12th Annual Report: Monitoring places of detention during COVID-19 – 12th Annual Report of the UK’s National Preventative Mechanism 2020-21

  • Lack of services in court on certain days could risk people being remanded unnecessarily

    Lay Observers (LOs) have raised a number of concerns in their newly published annual report, the most serious being that courts on Saturday’s or Bank Holidays are sometimes having to make remand decisions without important information, which should be provided by support services. Covid-19 restrictions made in-person visits by LOs impossible at times, but they … Read more >

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