Extension to Chair of Lay Observers’ National Council term

The Secretary of State has announced an extension to John Thornhill’s tenure as Chair of the Lay Observers’ National Council from 1 June 2021 until 31 May 2022.

This appointment is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments and the extension has been made in line with the Governance Code on Public Appointments.

Lay Observers are unpaid public appointees appointed by the Secretary of State under the 1991 Criminal Justice Act. They inspect the conditions in which Detained Persons are transported or held by escort or custody contractors in England and Wales.

The Chair convenes and oversees the work of the National Council, leading its development and ensuring that monitoring is appropriately performed by the Lay Observers and that their work dovetails with that of other bodies.


John Thornhill was appointed as Chair of the Lay Observers’ National Council in June 2018 following an open competition.

He was President of the Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) until 2017. He was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to the Criminal Justice System and in 2013 awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LLD) by Manchester Metropolitan University in recognition of his distinguished achievements in the fields of law, education and public service.

He has declared no political activity.

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