Nigel Newcomen to be Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

Monday, 5 September 2011

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has appointed Nigel Newcomen CBE as the next Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales.

Mr Newcomen, formerly the Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons, will take up office from 5 September 2011.

The Justice Committee held a pre-appointment hearing with Mr Newcomen, as the Justice Secretary’s preferred candidate, to consider his suitability for the office.  The Committee published its report in May 2011, endorsing the appointment.
Mr Newcomen was identified following a rigorous and open selection process, that took into account the Commissioner for Public Appointment’s Code of Practice as best practice.
Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said:

'The Secretary of State and I are delighted to welcome Nigel Newcomen to the office of Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.  We wish him every success in taking forward the valuable work of the Ombudsman, as an independent point of complaint and in investigating the deaths of those who come within his remit.'

Nigel Newcomen said:

'I very much look forward to becoming Prisons and Probation Ombudsman. The independent investigation of detainee complaints and of deaths in custody contributes to both fairness and safety in the criminal justice system. Crucial lessons can be learned from such investigations to avoid any failings in the future. This important and sensitive work is increasing but achieving more with less is a challenge I shall relish.'

Notes to editors

  1. The office of Prisons and Probation Ombudsman for England and Wales was established in 1994 to provide independent and effective adjudication of complaints from prisoners.  The remit was expanded in 2001 to include Probation complaints, and further expanded in 2004 to include investigation of deaths in prisons, Approved Premises and immigration custody. The investigation of complaints from immigration detainees was added to the remit in 2006.
  2. The Ombudsman works to terms of reference set by the Justice Secretary and reports directly to him.  The Ombudsman reports to the Home Secretary on the immigration aspect of his remit.
  3. Nigel Newcomen was appointed as HM Deputy Chief Inspector of Prisons in 2003.  He began his career in law and then research, followed by 10 years in the probation service. He joined the Home Office in 1991 and held a number of senior posts, largely in the prison service. He has spent the last 8 years in the independent Inspectorate of Prisons, working as Deputy Chief Inspector for both Dame Anne Owers DBE and Nick Hardwick CBE.
  4. On 5 April 2011, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke invited the Justice Committee to hold a pre-appointment hearing and report on Mr Newcomen's suitability for the post.
  5. Pre-appointment scrutiny hearings enable committees to take evidence from candidates for certain key public appointments before they are appointed.  Hearings are in public and involve the committee publishing a report setting out their views on the candidate’s suitability for the post.  The hearings are non-binding but ministers will consider the committee's views before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.
Ministry of Justice


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