Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform and Honorary Visiting Fellow
Appointed director of the Howard League for Penal Reform in 1986, Frances Crook has been responsible for research programmes and campaigns to raise public concern about suicides in prison, the over-use of custody and poor conditions in prison, young people in trouble, and mothers in prison. Under her direction the number of staff and turnover of the charity have grown twenty-fold. The charity has secured a contract with the Legal Services Commission to provide legal advice to children in custody and has taken a number of successful judicial reviews that have improved the treatment of children and young people in custody and on release.
She writes articles for the national media, and frequently does interviews on radio and television news.
After taking a history degree at Liverpool University, Frances Crook qualified as a teacher, working in secondary schools in Liverpool and London until 1980. She was the campaigns co-coordinator at Amnesty International’s British Section from 1980 to 1985, and she was twice elected as a Labour Councillor for East Finchley on Barnet Council, serving from 1982 to 1990. She has been a school governor and chaired various local community organisations.
She was a Governor of Greenwich University for six years and chaired the Staff and General Committee, retiring in 2002.
From 2005 to 2008 she served on the Board of the School Food Trust, the non-departmental public body charged with overseeing the implementation of national standards for school food in every school in England and Wales.
From 2009 to 2011 she was an NHS Non-Executive Director of Barnet Primary Care Trust.
Frances Crook was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1997 and the Perrie Award in 2005.
She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours list 2010, and in the same year she was appointed a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics.