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.
Though he claims no acccolade for it Mark 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 15 years he has been Editor of The Prisons Handbook, the definitive 1,200 page annual guide to the penal system of England and Wales - the 2013 edition was published in December 2012. Mark is also the Editor of Converse the highest circulation national monthly newspaper for prisoners - distributing up to 60,000 copies per month. Mark is the Director of the Institute of Prison Law, a Law Society accredited legal training organisation, and he is the Founder and former Chief Executive of the national ex-offenders charity UNLOCK.
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 Peak District National Park where they own several Thai restaurants and, outside of work, his interests are in aviation; Mark is a qualified Helicopter pilot.
What People Say About Mark Leech
Sir Martin Narey. Director HM Prisons 1998-2005
"I was very lucky as Director General to have had you around, I consider you not only as a colleague but also as a friend"
Phil Wheatley CBE. Director HM Prisons 2005-2010
"One of the sanest, best informed commentators on prison issues."
Baroness Scotland QC. HM Attorney General 1997-2010
"One of the very speakers on the penal system; his experiences have given him answers to those questions other 'experts' can only guess at."