My name is David Pinchin and I was recently elected to be your Chair for the next year. I feel extremely honoured to have been given this role and I hope I will be able to make a useful contribution to the work of AMIMB. However, following in the footsteps of Chris Padfield, as Chair, will be no easy task;. Many, many thanks go to Chris for all his wisdom and diplomacy and I look forward to working with him as he is staying on as a member of the executive committee.
For those who don’t know me, I have been on the BoV and IMB scene for over 20 years. I joined the Belmarsh BoV in 1992 soon after the prison was opened and just after Boards’ adjudication and disciplinary functions were thankfully removed. I subsequently chaired the Belmarsh IMB for four years before retiring finally from the scene – as I thought – in 2008. Eighteen months later I was invited back to Chair a new Board at HMP/YOI Isis just before the prison opened for business, not a lot having been done by the Secretariat to secure members for that Board despite several years of reminders by the Belmarsh Board as we watched the new prison being built next door! I agreed and have subsequently had five rewarding years developing that Board and monitoring a very interesting and challenging prison, finally handing over to my vice-Chair at the beginning of 2016. I shall remain an active member of the Isis Board.
Careerwise, I was in NHS general management for 30 years until I couldn’t stand it any longer, finally ending up in the Civil Service as Director of Investigations in the Office of the Health Service Ombudsman, some might say poacher turned gamekeeper…
As far as IMBs are concerned I am absolutely convinced that members need AMIMB now more than ever before, especially with the long-awaited outcome of the governance review round the corner. We may well need to be very vocal and strong in support of ensuring our independence and obtaining clarity about our future role and accountability both locally and nationally. There are still some niggling anxieties about how possible links to HMIP might work; we must not end up with ‘no unfettered access’ to establishments as in Scotland.
I fully agree that accountability needs to be clarified for everybody’s sake and monitoring does need to be consistent, hence the national monitoring framework, but Boards do nevertheless need to retain flexibility locally. That is crucial to reflect the different needs of our establishments and also to empower and maintain the enthusiasm of individual members. I believe AMIMB is the perfect vehicle to support Boards and individual members in this regard by continuing to voice deep concerns about key issues such as reductions in staffing levels, safety and increasing levels of violence in our establishments. It is particularly important for AMIMB to do so at this time while politicians and the MoJ seem increasingly reluctant to accept that such serious problems exist. Whilst fully understanding Brian Guthrie’s personal reasons for not being able to continue as editor of the Independent Monitor, AMIMBs excellent quarterly publication, I , like many of you, strongly believe it must continue to flourish so that our views on these matters are kept powerfully in the public domain.
AMIMB has also been the provider of exceptional learning and training opportunities for IMB members, including high quality seminars and visits, and in the absence of anything similar being provided by our MoJ sponsors, I am determined to see AMIMB continue and possibly extend its role in this area.
Any help you can give locally to attract more of your members to join AMIMB would be much appreciated. Just one more member from every other IMB would make a huge difference. We also need a few more volunteers to join us on the Executive Committee. Please give that some thought too and contact Helen on firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can help.