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Institute of Criminology



Peter spent the first 15 years of his career working in the Home Office in a variety of policy and managerial roles. This included two spells in the then Prison Department, the first  coinciding with the Strangeways riot and the subsequent Woolf report, and the second culminating in a period on the Prisons Board.  He left Whitehall in 1999 to pursue a career within the operational arm of the Prison Service, working as a prison officer in HMP Brixton before returning there as Deputy Governor in 2002, and subsequently governing both HMP Downview (then a prison for women) and HMP High Down between 2005 and 2012. While at High Down, he oversaw the opening of the first “Clink” restaurant, and the prison became a centre for innovation, hosting new projects such as the Restore programme run by The Forgiveness Project.

In 2012, Peter left the public sector to join Sodexo Justice Services, and led the operational design and mobilisation of the company’s bids to run new community rehabilitation companies in 6 different regions.

In 2015, Peter joined the Prison Reform Trust as its deputy director, becoming its director in the following year following the retirement of Juliet Lyon. During his time at PRT, he helped to develop and expand the Trust’s long standing interest in bringing the wisdom of prisoners to bear on the policy issues facing prisons. His tenure coincided with a period of exceptional operational instability in prisons and the Covid 19 pandemic, as well as very frequent changes in the ministers responsible for prisons. The many issues on which PRT campaigned up to his retirement in the spring of 2023 included changes to the parole system, the continuing scandal of the sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP), the failure to implement policies to reduce the imprisonment of women, and the introduction of PAVA, a chemical incapacitant spray, as standard equipment for all prison officers in prisons holding adult men. He also focused the Trust’s efforts on the rapidly growing population of people serving very long and indeterminate sentences, securing a major 5 year grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, and setting up an independent commission chaired by the former Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, to promote the case for a fundamental review of how the most serious crime is punished.

Peter is patron of the Michael Varah Memorial Fund, a small grant giving charity. He also acted as an adviser to the Correctional Services of South Africa for a short period in 2003.