Lay Observers are independent, unpaid, public appointees made by the Secretary of State for Justice under S.81(1)(b) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. They have a duty to inspect the conditions in which Detained Persons are transported or held by escort and custody contractors in England and Wales.

They visit:

  • courts to confirm that Detained Persons are being treated decently, inspect conditions in custody areas, and inspect the vehicles used by the contractors;
  • police stations to observe the handover of Detained Persons from the police to the contractors;
  • prisons to observe the handover of Detained Persons from prison to the contractors and vice versa;
  • prisons to observe Detained Persons escorted there from other prisons using the Inter Prison Transfer [IPT] contract and inspect the vehicles used by the contractor.


Lay Observers monitor against the expectations for detained persons

For all those in escort and court custody we expect:

  • Detained Persons to be treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination;
  • access to justice for Detained Persons, with all being given information about their rights and    having the ability to access legal advice;
  • Detained Persons to be held in suitable accommodation that is clean safe and fit for purpose;
  • Detained Persons to be transported promptly in suitable vehicles;
  • transport and custody to be managed in a way that supports Detained Persons’ wellbeing;
  • responsible people properly exercising their duty of care in relation to Detained Persons’ health and personal care needs.