New Year honours: Anne Owers awarded damehood

Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers has been awarded a damehood in the New Year honours list for her services to the criminal justice system. 


Owers received the DBE in recognition of her commitment to improving prison conditions. She has been an outspoken critic of overcrowding in jails since her appointment as chief inspector in 2001 and has campaigned for greater mental health support for inmates.


She has also slammed the inappropriate placement of children and young people in prison as well as the use of controversial restraint techniques in the juvenile secure estate.


Human rights campaigner


In addition to her post as chief inspector, Dame Anne was appointed as chair of Christian Aid in November 2008. The charity’s director, Daleep Mukarji, said: “Her honour is for services to the criminal justice system but she has also achieved a great deal in her work on human rights and race relations.”


In all, 966 people were granted an award in the list, with 39% being honoured for their work in voluntary and local services.


Hampshire Council director of children’s services John Coughlan was awarded a CBE – the most prestigious mainstream gong after a knighthood or damehood. The award follows his work in Haringey in the wake of the Baby P scandal, though the gong was likely to have been confirmed beforehand.


Baby P


Coughlan served as interim director in Haringey at the behest of children’s secretary Ed Balls throughout December 2008 to help the council in addressing safeguarding failings identified in a highly critical joint area review.


Coughlan joined Hampshire in 2005 and was instrumental in setting up the Association of Directors of Children’s Services in 2007, serving as joint president from 2007-8.


Hampshire Council leader Ken Thornber said: “It is a testimony to his hard work and dedication to ensuring the successful integration of children’s services, not just here in Hampshire, but nationally as well.”




John Freeman, director of children’s services at Dudley Council, who helped set up ADCS along with Coughlan, also received a CBE.


CBEs were also awarded to Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, for services to the welfare of prisoners, and Dyslexia Action director Shirley Cramer, for services to education. 


Nick Partridge, chief executive of HIV/Aids charity the Terrence Higgins Trust and commissioner on the Healthcare Commission, received a knighthood.


Disability leaders


There were also honours for some of the major figures in the world of disability.


These included Lucy Sayce, chief executive of disability network Radar, and Christine Lenehan, director of the Council for Disabled Children, both of whom received OBEs.


Fiona Ritchie, learning disability adviser at the Healthcare Commission, also was awarded an OBE. Ritchie led the commission’s work in exposing abuse and poor practice in services for people with learning disabilities in Cornwall and south London in 2006-7.


There was also an OBE for social care consultant and General Social Care Council vice-chair Melanie Henwood, a regular contributor to Community Care.


Sarah Payne


Sara Payne, who, since the murder of her daughter Sarah nine years ago has fought for the implementation of laws that would provide information on registered child sex offenders to parents and guardians, received an MBE for her “outstanding services to child protection”.


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