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Professor of Sociology, Durham University

John Podmore is an author, freelance criminal justice consultant and journalist. He worked in the Prison Service for 25 years and governed three prisons - Belmarsh, Swaleside and Brixton. He spent three years as an inspector of prisons and carried out a number roles in prison service headquarters as a consultant in offender health and as Head of the Anti-corruption Unit. John left the prison service in March 2011 receiving an award from the High Sheriff of Greater London for outstanding work in criminal justice in London.

John is Honorary Professor in the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Durham and an external lecturer at Kings and Birmingham Universities. He is a trustee of the Pilgrim and Longford Trust, a Board member of the drug charity, Addaction and a member of the Homicide Review Advisory Group. He writes for a range of publications including the Guardian and speaks widely in the media and at conferences in the UK and abroad. His first book: Out of Sight Out of Mind, Why Britain’s Prisons are failing was published in January 2012 by Biteback and was been nominated for the 2013 Orwell Prize. He currently Chairs a Commission examining the resettlement of prisoners with alcohol problems and has acted as a script consultant to the BBC drama, Casualty. He has extensive international experience in Europe, USA, Australia and Mauritius. Most recently his work has been with Penal Reform International involving the evaluation of prison projects in Kazakhstan and a training of trainers programme for the prison service in India and for Commonwealth countries across Africa.


  • –present
    Professor, School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University