New Chief Inspector of Prisons announced

Peter Clarke to take over from Nick Hardwick


Last week Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced that Peter Clarke OBE would be taking over from Nick Hardwick as Chief Inspectorate of Prisons. We have a look at Mr Hardwick’s legacy and the man chosen to fill his shoes.


Nick Hardwick’s legacy

Nick Hardwick CBE was appointed HM Chief Inspector of Prisons on 15 July 2010 as the sixth holder of the office. Mr Hardwick stands out for his damning inspections. Lord Ramsbothem, a previous holder of the post, describes him as a “fearless reporter of the facts”.


Outgoing Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick: “Fearless reporter of the facts”


Fearless reporter of the facts

Former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling decided not to renew Mr Hardwick’s five-year contract last July and Mr Hardwick declined to reapply for his post.


A lot more dangerous

Leaving the role, Mr Hardwick told  the BBC’s Newsnight programme that prisons have grown ”a lot more” dangerous. The murder and suicide rate inside UK prisons at its highest level in 10 years.


In February, Mr Hardwick takes up a permanent role as Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Law, Royal Holloway University of London.


Peter Clarke: The new Chief Inspector of Prisons

Born 27 July 1955, Peter John Michael Clarke, CVO, OBE, QPM is married with three children and a self-professed cricket and rugby fan. He joined the Met in 1977 and rose through the ranks to Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch in 2002.

The role turned Clarke into one of the country’s most high profile police officers. He had direct control of the investigation into 7/7 attacks on London and was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2006 New Years Honours.

Michael Gove announced in Parliament last week:

“Peter Clarke is a retired senior police officer, who served in the Metropolitan Police Service for more than 30 years. He rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and also served as Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. In 2014 he was appointed Education Commissioner for Birmingham, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the “Trojan Horse” letter. Peter also served on the Board of the Charity Commission until January 2016.”


Phone hacking

Mr Clarke oversaw the original probe into phone hacking in 2006. In 2011 he accused News International of “prevarication” and “lies” during his investigation.

“This is a major global organisation with access to the best legal advice, in my view deliberately trying to thwart a police investigation,” he told the committee.

Mr Clarke said terrorist threats were of greater importance to the force than looking into phone hacking.


Tough on terrorism

Mr Clarke retired in 2008 and has since been vocal for tougher legistlation on terrorism. Including detention before charge for terrorist suspects.

“The vast majority of terrorist suspects maintain their right to silence, however long they are in custody. There is no reason to suppose this would change after they have been charged. The walls of Paddington Green Police Station rarely reverberate with outpourings of guilt and contrition.”


Trojan Horse

In 2014, Mr Clarke headed the Trojan horse probe in Birmingham. Not everyone was impressed by the appointment.

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, described the appointment as “desperately unfortunate”.

“Peter Clarke has many qualities but people will inevitably draw unwarranted conclusions from his former role as National Co-ordinator for Counter Terrorism.”



Sir Hugh Order, the Northern Ireland Chief Constable and former Metropolitan police Deputy Assistant Commissioner, has been a close friend of Mr Clarke for 23 years and holds him in high regard.

“He’s a very capable and determined police officer, very much a team player and a great detective which has stood him in good stead as he came up through the ranks. He is 100% committed to the job and he has been working every day since July 7”


Mr Clarke will certainly have to work hard to fix prisons that are “a lot more dangerous” than in the past according to his predecessor.

One Comment on “New Chief Inspector of Prisons announced”

  1. Jane Parsons, HMI Prisons says:

    Lord Ramsbotham held the post of Chief Inspector of Prisons before Dame Anne Owers. Dame Anne Owers was HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, from August 2001 until July 2010.


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