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Volunteer to be a Lay Observer

Volunteering as a Lay Observer is a rewarding role where you can make a real difference to people’s lives and learn new skills.

The role

Lay Observers are unpaid public appointees, appointed by the Secretary of State to provide independent oversight on the welfare of detained persons whilst in court custody and during transportation between prison and court.

This is a unique and varied role. You will get to make regular visits to court custody suites within England and Wales and speak to a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and many walks of life.

You will get to see and report on what happens within a vital part of the UK justice system: whether individuals are being given sufficient access to legal counsel, what support there is for the most vulnerable, including children, and how the needs of detained people are met.

Learn more about the role of a Lay Observer

Gain valuable skills and work experience

There are lots of reasons why people choose to volunteer with the Lay Observers.

Whether you’re studying, thinking of making a career change but lack the relevant experience, looking for ways to increase your confidence after having taken a career break, or recently retired, you will gain valuable skills in a rewarding way.

  • Gain transferable employment skills such as decision making, independent working, and observational skills.
  • Get training from existing Lay Observers.
  • Employees who volunteer usually have greater job satisfaction.

See the benefits of volunteering with us

We welcome people from all walks of life

You don’t need qualifications or previous experience of the justice system to become a Lay Observer. Your values are more important. You need to be over 18, enthusiastic, open minded, a natural communicator and possess sound, objective judgement.

In order to apply you will need to:

  • commit to making a minimum of 2 visits a month
  • have a right to work in the UK
  • declare potential conflicts of interest, for example if you work as a court custody officer

We are keen to increase our diversity, especially from under-represented groups such as young people, those of working age and individuals from minoritised groups.

Learn more about what is required in this role

Current vacancies

We only accept applications during recruitment campaigns. See if we are currently recruiting for the Lay Observers.

See current vacancies