We only accept applications during recruitment campaigns. Check our current vacancies to see if we are recruiting.
Check you are eligible to apply
To volunteer with us, you must:
- be over 18 years old
- commit to making a minimum of 2 visits a month
- have a right to work in the UK
- be willing to visit courts within a 55 mile radius of your home
- declare any potential conflicts of interest, for example if you work as a court custody officer
- declare criminal records (although this won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming a volunteer)
- be able to pass necessary security clearances
If you have any concerns about a possible conflict, please contact the LO Secretariat by email LOrecruitment@justice.gov.uk and we would be happy to discuss this with you.
What qualities do you need?
You do not need any formal qualifications or experience to volunteer as a Lay Observer as we provide all the necessary training.
There are some key qualities we look for in Lay Observers:
- commitment to diversity, equality and human rights
- effective communication and listening skills
- drive and determination
- commitment and perseverance
- teamwork and development
- integrity and independence
Newly appointed Lay Observers are expected to commit to a minimum of 3 visits per month during their 6-month probation period in order to become independently proficient in the role.
Upon successful completion of the six-month probation period, Lay Observers are expected to commit to a minimum of 2 visits per month.
Although time commitments vary, the total time needed to research, travel to and visit a court, and complete a report will often take at least 8 hours. Lay Observers can choose when visits are made but are expected to undertake their visits during weekdays as many courts are not open at weekends. Some Lay Observers may have time to make more than the minimum number of visits.
Applications will only be accepted during recruitment campaigns. If we are not currently running a campaign register your interest to be the first to hear about future vacancies.
Applications will be sifted and if successful we’ll invite you to attend an interview. You will be assessed on key Lay Observer qualities.
If successful you will have to go through security clearance. Lay Observers have unrestricted access to court custody suites when they are operational. For this reason all Lay Observers must be security cleared.
Finally we will recommend your application to the Minister for a decision on appointment.
The whole appointments process usually takes around 4-6 months, although we try to ensure times are kept to a minimum and keep applicants informed throughout the process. We understand that the wait can be frustrating but we hope that you understand why this is necessary.