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29 Jun 2021

Andrea Coomber appointed Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform

Andrea Coomber

Trustees of the Howard League for Penal Reform are delighted to announce the appointment of the charity’s new Chief Executive, Andrea Coomber.

Andrea Coomber is an experienced leader and qualified lawyer who has held senior roles at human rights organisations in the UK and overseas. She is currently the Director of JUSTICE and will start work with the Howard League on 1 November.

The Howard League has played a key role in the life of the nation for more than 150 years, dealing with issues of great public concern that are central to the rule of law, public safety and social justice. It campaigns for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.

The charity’s work will be vital in the years ahead. Having endured enormous difficulties during the pandemic, prisons must provide more open and positive regimes. A reunified probation service faces huge challenges, while the recruitment of thousands more police officers risks sweeping more people into the criminal justice system unnecessarily.

Andrea Coomber said: “It is a privilege to follow Frances Crook in the Howard League’s historic mission for criminal justice reform.

“As the world emerges from brutal lockdowns, it has never been more important to discuss incarceration, rehabilitation and the kind of societies that we want to live in.

“Forging a just society for the future means moving away from a reliance on prisons and locking people up, to investing instead in communities and solutions to crime that lie outside of the criminal justice system. I look forward to leading the Howard League and making this case in the years to come.”

Professor Fergus McNeill, Chair of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “We are delighted to have been able to appoint a new Chief Executive with such an outstanding track record. Andrea has been an exceptionally effective and successful leader at JUSTICE and she shares the same values, commitment and dynamism that already characterise the work of the Howard League for Penal Reform.

“Though we are all very aware of the profound challenges that face us – both organisationally and in criminal justice – as we seek to navigate both the pandemic and the recovery, we can now look forward with renewed confidence and with excitement about what we can achieve together.

“Andrea will be building on very strong foundations, working with staff and Trustees and our members, to help develop and implement a fresh and exciting vision for the criminal justice reform we so urgently need.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. Andrea Coomber is currently the Director of JUSTICE, a position she has held since February 2013. She is a Lay Member of the Conduct Committee of the House of Lords. She has previously held positions including: Legal Director and Senior Equality Lawyer at Interights; Head of Information and Training at the International Service for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland; and Legal Officer at the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in New Delhi, India. She qualified as a Barrister and Solicitor with Minter Ellison in Perth, Australia. Andrea Coomber has a BA/LLB (Hons) from the University of Western Australia and an LLM (Dist.) from the London School of Economics, where she was awarded the Rosalynn Higgins Prize for topping public international law. She is a Board Member of the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII); an Honorary Master of the Bench of Middle Temple; an Affiliate Member of the Centre for Law & Social Justice at Leeds University; and Advisory Council Member of the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa.


Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955

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