“I consider myself very lucky as Director General to have had you around – I consider you not only as a colleague but also as a friend” – Sir Martin Narey Director General HM Prison Service (1999-2006)
“The sanest best-informed commentator on prison issues” – Phil Wheatley, Director General HM Prison Service (2006-2012)
“An invaluable source of authoritative information about prisons” Baroness Scotland QC, HM Attorney General for England and Wales (2010)
From prison strip cells and roof-top protests at one end of the scale, to being Editor of the definitive 1,200+page annual reference book on the prison system of England and Wales at the other, Mark Leech has travelled an astonishing journey.
Taken into ‘Care’ at the age 8 after the sudden death of his mother, Mark was one of the victims of the Cheshire Care Homes Scandal for which Care Home staff were later jailed for serious child sexual assaults – the abuse created in Mark a very angry young man with a deep distrust of authority. Though he claims no accolade for it Mark became embroiled in crime and robberies and served almost 20 years in 62 of Britain’s jails, from Inverness in the north of Scotland to Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight, his prison career was characterised by riots, roof top protests and more than 40 successful legal battles against the prison authorities fought in every legal arena from the County Court to the House of Lords.
Once a tenacious thorn in the side of the prison authorities Mark, who was released from prison in 1995, has risen to become the country’s foremost ex-offender expert on the policy and practice of the penal system.
For the last 21 years he has been Managing Editor of The Prisons Handbook, the definitive 1,200 page annual reference book on the penal system of England and Wales – the 2016 (18th) edition of which, with a foreword by Rt.Hon Michael Gove MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, is published 1st May 2016 (more..); in 2002 he also became the book’s publisher.
Mark is also the Editor of Converse the highest circulation national monthly newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales, distributing circa 60,000 copies of this 32 page award-winning national newspaper per month to every prison and young offender institution in the country.
Mark is a full member of the National Union of Journalists, the consultant to two solicitors firms, and an Expert Witness in prison-related legal cases .
Mark is the co-founder and Director of the Institute of Prison Law, a Law Society accredited legal training organisation.
With the actor Stephen Fry, and Bobby Cummines OBE (Mark’s deputy Chief Executive and later his successor) Mark is the Founder and former Chief Executive of UNLOCK, the national award-winning UK charity for people with criminal convictions – since its creation UNLOCK has:
- Been awarded The Guardian Charity of the Year Award in 2011;
- Provided direct assistance to thousands of people every single year, and
- Developed the most comprehensive source of information for people with convictions on the internet, accessed by nearly 250,000 people each year.
Mark is a regular prisons commentator on BBC Newsnight, BBC News, Sky News, BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show and he is much sought after as an after dinner speaker. Mark is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Mark lives with his partner and their young son in the north of England where they own several award-winning Thai restaurants and, outside of work, his interests are in aviation; Mark is a qualified helicopter pilot.
The fastest way to contact Mark is to call his PA Andy Simpson on 07836 717021 or 0845 474 0013, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .