At 1,600-pages it’s our most comprehensive edition yet!









The Prisons Handbook: “An incredible reference book on Prisons; I keep a copy in my top drawer and I refer to it frequently
Director General: HM Prison Service



Mark Leech FRSA

Britain’s Leading Ex-Offender Expert on Prisons.

“The sanest, best-informed, commentator on prison issues”  Phil Wheatley, CEO; HM Prison Service

“I consider myself very lucky 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

“Focused, tenacious, committed, Mark’s experiences have given him answers to those questions other experts can only guess at”  Baroness Scotland QC, Commonwealth Secretary-General

Mark Leech was taken into ‘Care’ at the age of 8 and like many Care-leavers later became involved in crime serving 14 years in a prison career characterised by roof-top protests and over 40 successful legal battles that changed British prison law. Mark was released from prison in March 1995 and has risen to become the country’s foremost ex-offender expert on the policy and practice of the penal system.

While in prison Mark was the Prisons Correspondent for The Guardian newspaper, for whom he still writes today, writing a lengthy series of 1000 words feature articles on all aspects on the prison system from his cell.

Mark wrote three award-winning plays in prison – “The Facts Speak For Themselves“, Directed by Ned Chaillet for BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Night Theatre, won him the BBC Radio Drama Award.

Today Mark has written investigative articles for The Independent; his investigation into fire safety in prisons lead to a joint article with Rachel Roberts revealing how all prisons failed every fire safety inspection in 2017/2018.

See also “Grenfell Prisons: A shocking report into fire safety behind bars and ‘If only our prisons really were hotels” – the full investigative report.

Mark’s critical ‘long read’ article in The Independent, revealing how Prisons Inspectorate recommendations were being routinely ignored by prisons, resulted in the creation of an Ugent Notification protocol between the Ministry of Justice and the Prisons Inspectorate four months later, that ensured public accountability for failing prisons by the Justice Secretary.

He is the Managing Editor of The Prisons Handbook, the definitive 1,600 page annual reference book on the penal system of England and Wales, he is the founder and former Chief Executive of the award-winning national charity for people with convictions UNLOCK, the Editor of Converse; the largest circulation national monthly prisons newspaper – edited and published 100% by reformed offenders – and editor of the highly successful The Cell Companion – everyone’s guide to serving and surviving a prison sentence in England and Wales.

Mark is the Director of The Institute of Prison Law, whose acclaimed Certificate of Competency in Prison Law has been studied by thousands of lawyers, prison staff and prisoners too. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the National Union of Journalists and today he lives with his partner and their two children among the beautiful mountains of Northern Thailand. Outside of work his interests are in aviation – Mark is a qualified helicopter pilot.


Converse – The largest circulation national monthly newspaper for prisons in England and Wales 


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Media Contact: Andy Simpson +44 (0)7836 717021  Email