Social, Humanitarian, Suffrage

John Howard (Prison Reformer) 1726

Born 2 Sep 1726
Died 20 Jan 1790
Aged 63

John Howard FRS was a philanthropist and early English prison reformer. As we shall read later, his connection with Warrington was with the printing and publishing of his book on prison reform.

Howard was born in North London, either in Hackney or Enfield. His father, also John, was a wealthy upholsterer at Smithfield Market in the city. His mother Ann Pettitt died when he was five years old, and, described as a “sickly child”, he was sent to live at Cardington, Bedfordshire, some fifty miles from London, where his father owned property. His father, a strict disciplinarian with strong religious beliefs, sent the young John to a school in Hertford and then to John Eames’s dissenting academy in London.

After school, John was apprenticed to a wholesale grocer to learn business methods, but he was unhappy. When his father died in 1742, he was left with a sizeable inheritance but no true vocation. His Calvinist faith and quiet, serious disposition meant he had little desire for the fashionable endeavours of an English aristocratic lifestyle. In 1748, he left England for a grand tour of the continent.

Upon his return, he lived in lodgings in Stoke Newington, where he again became seriously ill. He was nursed back to health by his landlady, Sarah Loidore, whom he then married despite her being thirty years older than he was. She died within three years and he distributed her meagre belongings amongst her remaining family and poor neighbours.

John Howard was considered eccentric by many of his contemporaries. It has been advanced by psychiatrist Philip Lucas and by mathematician Ioan Mackenzie James that Howard might have had Asperger’s Syndrome.

Taken Prisoner

He then set out for Portugal following the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, traveling on the Hanover, which was captured by French privateers. He was imprisoned in Brest for six days before being transferred to another prison on the French coast. He was later exchanged for a French officer held by the British, and he quickly travelled to the Commissioners of Sick and Wounded Seamen in London to seek help on behalf of his fellow captives. It is widely believed that this personal experience generated Howard’s interest in prisons.

Having returned from France, he settled again at Cardington, Bedfordshire to live on a 200-acre (0.81 km2) estate which was formerly two farms, the larger of which he had inherited from his grandparents. In 1758, Howard married Henrietta Leeds who died in 1765, a week after giving birth to a son, also named John, who was sent to boarding school at a very young age. The younger John was sent down from Cambridge for homosexual offences, was judged insane at the age of 21, and died in 1799 having spent thirteen years in an asylum.

High Sheriff of Bedfordshire

John Howard was appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1773, initially for a one-year period. Such was his dedication, rather than delegating his duties to the under-sheriff as was customary, Howard inspected the county prison himself. He was shocked by what he found, and spurred into action to inspect prisons throughout England. Of particular concern to Howard were those prisoners who were held because they could not pay the jailer’s fee – an amount paid to the owner or keeper of the prison for upkeep. He took this issue to parliament, and in 1774 Howard was called to give evidence on prison conditions to a House of Commons select committee. Members of that committee were so impressed that, unusually, Howard was called to the bar of the House of Commons and publicly thanked for his “humanity and zeal”.

Having visited several hundred prisons across England, Scotland, Wales and wider Europe, Howard published the first edition of The State of the Prisons in 1777. It included very detailed accounts of the prisons he had visited, including plans and maps, together with detailed instructions on the necessary improvements, especially regarding hygiene and cleanliness, the lack of which was causing many deaths. It is this work that has been credited as establishing the practice of single-celling in the United Kingdom and, by extension, in the United States. The following account, of the Bridewell at Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is typical:

Two dirty day-rooms; and three offensive night-rooms: That for men eight feet square: one of the women’s, nine by eight; the other four and a half feet square: the straw, worn to dust, swarmed with vermin: no court: no water accessible to prisoners. The petty offenders were in irons: at my last visit, eight were women.

Howard viewed his work as humanitarian. Terry Carlson, in his 1990 biographical tract on Howard, remarks:

Howard’s detailed proposals for improvements were designed to enhance the physical and mental health of the prisoners and the security and order of the prison. His recommendations pertaining to such matters as the prison location, plan and furnishings, the provision of adequate water supply, and prisoner’s diet promoted hygiene and physical health. Recommendations concerning the quality of prison personnel, rules related to the maintenance of standards of health and order and an independent system of inspection, reflect the need for prison personnel to set a moral example.

In April 1777, Howard’s sister died, leaving him £15,000 and her house. He used this inheritance and the revenue from the sale of her house to further his work on prisons. In 1778, he was again examined by the House of Commons, who were this time inquiring into “hulks”, or prison ships. Two days after giving evidence, he was again travelling Europe, beginning in the Dutch Republic.

By 1784, Howard calculated that he had travelled over 42,000 miles (68,000 km) visiting prisons. He had been awarded an honorary LLD by the University of Dublin and had been given the Freedom of the City of London. His fourth and final tour of English prisons began in March 1787 and two years later he published The State of the Prisons in England, and An Account of the Principal Lazarettos of Europe.

Howard’s Legacy

Almost eighty years after his death, the Howard Association was formed in London, with the aim of “promotion of the most efficient means of penal treatment and crime prevention” and to promote “a reformatory and radically preventive treatment of offenders”. In its first annual report in 1867, the Association stated that its efforts had been focused on “the promotion of reformatory and remunerative prison labour, and the abolition of capital punishment.” The Association merged with the Penal Reform League in 1921 to become the Howard League for Penal Reform. Today, the Howard League is Britain’s biggest penal reform organisation.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

His connection with Warrington

By Gary Skentlebery, Warrington Worldwide

IT might seem surprising today, that when John Howard, the legendary prison reformer published his iconic book “The State of the Prisons in England and Wales” in 1777, he should have chosen a printer from Warrington.

But in fact, at that time, Eyres’ Press – publishers of the first newspaper in Lancashire, The Warrington Advertiser – were renowned as quality printers. Major London publishers chose to have their books printed by William Eyres.

So Warrington was an ideal place for Howard to settle and he lived in lodgings in Bridge Street [on the site of Warrington Market] while the book was being prepared.

The story is told in a new book, “The Curious Mr Howard” by Tessa West (Waterside Press).

John Howard was indeed “curious.” He became a self-appointed inspector of prisons, travelling the country, mostly alone, and arriving unannounced at prisons and making notes of the conditions he found.

His period in Warrington probably offered him some respite from his frequently dangerous travels which were often completed on foot.

He was able to mix with the circle of intellectuals centred on Warrington Academy, which at that time had become known as “the Athens of the North.” His friends included the writers John Aikin and his sister Anna Laetitia Barbauld – both who were later honoured by having Warrington streets named after them.

The book details how Howard would spend long days at Eyres’ printing room, “with the exception of the dinner hour when he took his usual daily walk into the suburbs of the town, eating as he walked his frugal dinner of bread and dried fruit.”

William Eyres chose one of his staff, Daniel Grimshaw, as Howard’s compositor and the two became friends, so much so that later, when the prison reformer was compiling a second edition of “The State of the Prisons” Grimshaw, having left Eyres’ employment, was called back from London to do the work.

Howard, of course, gave his name to the UK’s oldest penal reform charity, The Howard League. Tessa West’s book paints a fascinating picture of his life, in Warrington and elsewhere, and as a former head of a prison education department who has worked for the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Department, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the subject.

From Warrington-Worldwide, the town’s daily online newspaper.

Jeannie Mole (Suffragette) 1841-1912

Born 2 May 1841
Died 15 Apr 1912
Aged 70

Image of Jeannie Mole, socialist, feminist and trade union organiser, taken in approximately 1880.
Source: Votes for Women: The events on Merseyside 1870 – 1928 (ISBN 090636745X) and now in the public domain.

Describing the plight of women workers in Liverpool, Jeannie Mole said:

Many of [them] rise before five, tidy their little homes, prepare the day’s food and pass the factory gate after a walk of two miles before the steam whistle stops shrieking at 6:30… So many of them receive only a few shillings a week, and have to tramp a long way to reach cheap shelter, and are not able to afford out of their wages such food as would give them energy and vigour. Sometimes, then, it happens that a woman hears the dreaded whistle stop when she is quarter of a mile away, and then she knows that some of her hard earned wage will be kept back from her.

Plaque to Jeannie Mole on the front wall of 96 Bold Street, Liverpool. Source: Rodhullandemu
Edited by G. Gandy/ and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Harriet Fisher Mole (née Jones), known as Jeannie, was a British socialist, feminist, and trade union organiser in Liverpool. Arriving there in 1879, Mole was instrumental in bringing socialism to Liverpool, as well as setting up a number of societies to encourage trade unions amongst Liverpool’s female workforce. She supported strikes to improve the workforce’s conditions, especially to remove fines.

Mole was also a supporter of dress reform, set up a socialist food van and advocated at a coroner’s investigation for the family of a woman killed in an industrial accident, ensuring the family received compensation and encouraging the jury to recommend safety improvements as part of the verdict.

Harriet Fisher Jones was born in Warrington to Evan Jones, a tinsmith, and Harriet Jones. As she and her mother shared the same name, she became better known as Jeannie. In 1860, she married a fruit merchant, Robert Willis, and the couple travelled to New York City, where she took an interest in the black rights movement. On her return to England, she and her husband settled in London and had a son, Robert Frederick Evan Willis, better known as Fred. Willis spent some time helping the poor in the slums of London. She was heavily influenced by the works of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin, setting her on the path of socialism.

In the late 1870s, Willis divorced her husband and remarried. Her new husband was another fruit merchant, William Keartland Mole, who was also the son of a wealthy Liverpool jeweller. William was 22 at the time, and the marriage was witnessed by Mole’s son, as well as her brother. The family moved to Liverpool, living on Bold Street. It was there that she began her lifelong ambition to improve the lives of those in poverty within Liverpool.

Feminist and socialist work

Finding just six socialists in Liverpool, Mole started propaganda meetings in her home with the support of her husband and son. These meetings lead to the formation in 1886 of the Worker’s Brotherhood, the first socialist society in Liverpool. The Brotherhood, despite never achieving great numbers, went on to help form the Liverpool branch of the Fabian Society in 1892. Mole became vice-president of the Liverpool Fabian Society in 1895. She also focused on more practical solutions for social issues, for example, funding a “socialist food van” at a cost of £55 6s 5d and campaigning for a “people’s hall” in Liverpool for the working class.

Mole was an early follower of dress reform, a feminist movement against the cumbersome garments of the Victorian era, and would regularly wear an outfit reminiscent of Greek robes. She gave the pattern to Caroline Martyn and Julia Dawson, who wore similar outfits.

In 1888, Mole and the Workers’ Brotherhood started to campaign to unionise the female workers in Liverpool into female-only unions. They started working with the Women’s Protective and Provident League (WPPL), calling for the founding of a local branch, and in January 1889, the group set up the Liverpool Workwomen’s Society, representing bookfolders, tailors, and cigar makers, with Mole acting as secretary. Women were over-represented in these poorly paid trades, with four women for every man working in them. The society relaunched the following year as “Liverpool Society for the Promotion of Women’s Trade Unions”, expanding its membership to other trades in reaction to Liverpool City Council’s inaction over sweating systems in the area. Mole helped set up specific unions, such as one for (primarily Chinese) laundresses and washerwomen. Around the same time, the House of Lords launched a select committee on sweating systems, with the ensuing publicity encouraging the group to take further action.

In 1894, Clementina Black set up the Women’s Industrial Council ; soon after, Mole helped found a Liverpool branch in which she was the secretary. The council helped form unions for upholsteressess and marine-sorters, as well as worked with the other groups set up by the Workwomen’s society. In her role, Mole also stepped up inquiries into working conditions for women; for example, when an industrial accident killed a woman at the Old Swan Rope Works in Liverpool, Mole attended the case as secretary of the ‘society for inquiring into the conditions of working women’. She ensured that a factory inspector attended, that the jury made recommendations to prevent future accidents, and that compensation was paid to the woman’s next of kin.

In 1895, Mole leveraged her position in the Liverpool Women’s Industrial Council (LWIC) to encourage a strike amongst Liverpool’s women ropemakers to stop fines on top of loss of wages for petty misdemeanors such as turning up late. Despite the successful outcome of the strike, the section of the LWIC led by Eleanor Rathbone wanted to focus on “social investigation” and disapproved of the action, leading Mole to disassociate herself from the group. Mole also created and edited the “women’s page” of the Liverpool Labour Chronicle newspaper.

Mole suffered a heart attack in 1896, likely due to excessive work and the ensuing illness lead to her taking a step back from organisational work the following year. Her son, Fred, died in 1905. On 15 April 1912, whilst on holiday in Paris, Mole died.

Information retrieved from Wikipedia.

Mabel Capper (Suffragette and Journalist) 1888-1966

Born 23 Jun 1888
Died 1 Sep 1966
Aged 77

WSPU Suffrage Women, Patricia Woodlock and Mabel Capper, Advertising Meetings, July 1908. Source: Museum of London, ID. no. NN22779.
Image is out of copyright.

Mabel Henrietta Capper was a British suffragette. She gave all her time between 1907 and 1913 to the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) as a ‘soldier’ in the struggle for women’s suffrage. She was imprisoned six times, went on hunger strike and was one of the first suffragettes to be force-fed.

She was also the first female journalist on the Warrington Examiner newspaper in 1907.

Capper was born in Brook’s Bar, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester, to Elizabeth Jane Crews, herself a suffragette, and William Bently Capper, a chemist and honorary secretary of the Manchester branch of the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage.

Member of the Women’s Social and Political Union

Capper joined the WSPU in 1907 and worked as an Organiser for the Manchester Branch. In 1908 she was living in London and giving her address as 4 Clement’s Inn, the same address as the Pethick Lawrence’s.

Capper and Patricia Woodlock, appeared as human noticeboards advertising 1908 women’s events in Liverpool and attempted to enter the all-male Royal Exchange, Manchester.

In October 1908, Capper took part in the Rush on the House of Commons, together with Christabel Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst and other suffragettes, like Clara Codd with whom she conspired to cause a distraction to get Codd past the police line . Capper appeared in the Dock charged with ‘wilful obstruction'”wearing a costume composed entirely of the colours of the WSPU, together with a sash, waistbelt and hatband bearing the words “Votes for Women”. She spent one month in Holloway (HM Prison) for refusing to pay the fine that was imposed.

In July 1909, Capper, together with Mary Leigh, Emily Wilding Davison and up to ten others were charged with obstructing the police, and Lucy Burns also charged with assaulting a Chief Inspector, while disrupting a meeting at the Edinburgh Castle, Limehouse, addressed by David Lloyd George. She was sentenced to 21 days imprisonment.

In July 1909, imprisoned, Capper went on hunger strike and was released after six days.

Capper had been given a Hunger Strike Medal ‘for Valour’ by WSPU.

In November 1910, together with many others, she was in Bow Street Police Court on charges of smashing the windows of the Colonial Secretary in Berkeley Square. She was described by the presiding Magistrate as ‘quite a child’.

In November 1911, Capper was imprisoned for smashing Bath Post Office windows on the occasion of Lloyd George’s visit there.

During World War I and afterwards

Following the declaration of war on 4 August 1914 and the suspension of Suffragette Militancy, Capper joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment. Later she became involved with the pacifist and socialist movements. From 1919 to 1922, she worked as a journalist for the Daily Herald after the war. In 1921, at Hampstead, she married the writer Cecil Chisholm. There were no children from the marriage.


In 1908 Capper wrote to the Manchester Guardian to counter the objection to women’s enfranchisement on the grounds that they would not be subject to conscription into the armed forces.

She wrote:

“there is no reason in denying the rights of citizenship to women on these grounds. – When our men set out to battle they do not go alone. They are accompanied by an army of women, whose duty it is to tend those stricken in the fight. They endure the same hardships, undergo the same risks. Is their work less noble? Does the State owe them a lighter debt?”

A few years later this point was reinforced by the heroic work of Mabel Anne St Clair Stobart’s Women’s Convoy Corps and afterwards the Women’s National Service League and Stobart’s 1913 book War and Women.

In October 1912, Capper’s play The Betrothal of Number 13 was produced at the Royal Court Theatre “of working class life, written with a certain amount of sympathetic insight and character” it concerned the stigma imposed by imprisonment, even on the innocent.

Capper maintained her interest in feminism and the lot of the underprivileged throughout her life. In 1963 she wrote of her friend Mary Gawthorpe ‘s father and “what it meant to be born into a North Country working class family (in) the eighteen-eighties….doomed by the caste system of (the) day to be a leather worker in an age when a stiff fight had to be made against competition from America.”

In Capper’s 1963 review of Gawthorpe’s book Up Hill to Holloway, Capper described how, in 1904, Gawthorpe was called to make her first speech entitled The Children under Socialism “concerning the propriety of providing suitable food and clothing for poor children of the unemployed and needy during the winter”

It was a time of economic depression and, “from the Labour point of view, the aftermath of the South African War.” Recruiting for that war “had afforded the usual discoveries of poor physiques, underfeeding and bad teeth.” Capper noted that, by 1963, it was difficult to realise “how grudging was the welfare in those days. It all depended on a voluntary basis and funds were exhausted in that winter of 1905. By February a total of 323,414 dinners had been provided…Strictest economy was necessary, and lentils, at about one halfpenny a meal, appear to have been the basic diet.”

Later life

Capper moved to Windrush Cottage, Fairlight near Hastings in 1946. In the last ten years of her life she was crippled by osteoarthritis and required full-time nursing care. She died in 1966 in the Leolyn Nursing home, St Leonards-on-Sea.

In 2018 the community room at the Warrington Town Hall was renamed the Mabel Capper Room in her memory.

Terry Waite (Humanitarian and Author) 1939-

Born 31 May 1939

Terence Hardy Waite CBE is an English humanitarian and author.

Waite was the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991.

After his release he wrote Taken on Trust, a book about his experiences, and became involved in humanitarian causes and charitable work.

Early life and career

The son of a village policeman in Styal, Cheshire, Waite was educated at Stockton Heath County Secondary School where he became head boy. Although his parents were only nominally religious, he showed a commitment to Christianity from an early age and later became a Quaker and an Anglican.

Waite joined the Grenadier Guards at Caterham Barracks, but an allergy to a dye in the uniform obliged him to depart after a few months. He then considered a monastic life, but instead joined the Church Army, a social welfare organisation of the Anglican Church modelled on the Salvation Army, undergoing training and studies in London.

In 1963, Waite was appointed education adviser to the Anglican Bishop of Bristol, Oliver Tomkins, and assisted with Tomkins’s implementation of the SALT (Stewardship and Laity Training) programme in the diocese, along with Basil Moss. This position required Waite to master psychological T-group methods, with the aim of promoting increased active involvement from the laity. During this time he married Helen Frances Watters. As a student, Waite was greatly influenced by the teachings of Ralph Baldry.

In 1969, he moved to Uganda where he worked as Provincial Training Adviser to Erica Sabiti, the first African Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi and, in that capacity, travelled extensively throughout East Africa. Together with his wife and their four children, Waite witnessed the Idi Amin coup in Uganda and he and his wife narrowly escaped death on several occasions. From his office in Kampala, Waite founded the Southern Sudan Project and was responsible for developing aid and development programmes for the region.

His next post was in Rome where, from 1972, he worked as an international consultant to the Medical Mission Sisters, a Roman Catholic order seeking to adapt to the leadership reforms of Vatican II.

Archbishop’s special envoy

Waite returned to the UK in 1978, where he took a job with the British Council of Churches. In 1980, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, appointed him the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs on the recommendation of Tomkins and Bishop John Howe. Based at Lambeth Palace, Waite again travelled extensively throughout the world and had a responsibility for the Archbishop’s diplomatic and ecclesiastical exchanges. He arranged and travelled with the Archbishop on the first ever visit of an Archbishop of Canterbury to China and had responsibility for travels to Australia, New Zealand, Burma, the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South Africa.

Hostage negotiator

In 1980, Waite successfully negotiated the release of several hostages in Iran: Iraj Mottahedeh (Anglican priest in Esfahan), Dimitri Bellos (diocesan officer), Nosrat Sharifian (Anglican priest in Kerman), Fazeli (church member), Jean Waddell (who was secretary to the Iranian Anglican bishop Hassan Dehqani-Tafti), Canon John Coleman and Coleman’s wife.

On 10 November 1984, he negotiated with Colonel Gaddafi for the release of the four remaining British hostages held in the Libyan Hostage Situation, Michael Berdinner, Alan Russell, Malcolm Anderson and Robin Plummer and was again successful.

From 1985, Waite became involved in hostage negotiation in Lebanon and assisted in negotiations which secured the release of Lawrence Jenco and David Jacobsen. American officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to the Khomeini government of Iran with a view to obtaining Iranian help in the release of hostages held in Lebanon. Waite’s use of an American helicopter to travel secretly between Cyprus and Lebanon and his appearance with Lt Colonel Oliver North, meant that he was compromised when the Irangate scandal broke in 1986. Against advice, Waite felt a need to demonstrate his continuing trust and integrity, and his commitment to the remaining hostages.

Captivity and release

Waite arrived in Beirut on 12 January 1987 with the intention of negotiating with the Islamic Jihad Organization, which was holding hostages, including Terry A. Anderson and Thomas Sutherland. On 20 January 1987, he agreed to meet the captors of the hostages as he was promised safe conduct to visit the hostages, who, he was told, were ill. The group broke trust and took him hostage on 20 January 1987. Waite remained in captivity for 1,763 days, the first four years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was finally released on 18 November 1991.

Release and after

Following his release he was elected a fellow commoner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he wrote his first book, Taken on Trust, an account of his captivity in Lebanon. It became a best-seller in the UK and internationally.

On 31 March 2007, Waite offered to travel to Iran to negotiate with those holding British sailors and marines seized by Iran in disputed waters on 23 March 2007.

Charity work

In January 1996, Waite became patron of the Warrington Male Voice Choir in recognition of the humanitarian role adopted by the choir following the Warrington bomb attacks. Since then, he has appeared with the choir for performances in prisons in UK and Ireland to assist in rehabilitation programmes. Prison concerts have become a regular feature of the choir’s Christmas activities.

Waite is co-founder and president of the charity Y Care International (YMCA’s international development and relief agency) and in 2004, he founded Hostage UK, an organisation designed to give support to hostage families. Waite became president of Emmaus UK, a charity for formerly homeless people, shortly after his release from captivity in 1991.

He is patron of several organisations including Storybook Dads, a UK charity which allows prisoners to send recordings of themselves reading bedtime stories to their own children, to help stay connected to some of the 200,000 children affected by parental imprisonment each year. He is a patron of Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, the Romany Society and Strode Park Foundation in Kent.

Faith perspective

Waite has a particular regard for Eastern Orthodoxy and the writings of Carl Jung. In 2008, he joined the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers.

In 2004, Waite returned to Beirut for the first time since his release from captivity. He told the BBC, “If you are bitter, it will eat you up and do more damage to you than to the people who have hurt you.”

Waite travelled again to Beirut in December 2012 to reconcile with his captors and lay to rest what he described as the ghosts of the past.

Helen Newlove (Community Reform Campaigner) 1961-

Born 28 Dec 1961

Helen Margaret Newlove, Baroness Newlove (born 28 December 1961) is a Warrington-based community reform campaigner who was appointed as the Victims’ Commissioner by the UK government in 2012. She is currently serving as a Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords. Helen Newlove came to prominence after her husband, Garry Newlove was murdered by three youths in 2007. After his death she set up a number of foundations that aimed to tackle the UK drinking culture as well as providing support to young people. Newlove was given a peerage in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list and sits in the House of Lords as a Conservative.


Newlove’s 47-year-old husband Garry Newlove was murdered in August 2007 in Warrington, after confronting a gang of drunken youths who were vandalising her car – the culmination of a long-running campaign of youth gang crime in the Padgate area of the town. Five months later, three local teenagers were found guilty of murdering Garry Newlove, who died in hospital 36 hours after being repeatedly kicked and punched outside his house. They were sentenced to life imprisonment with recommended minimum terms of between 12 and 17 years. Two other suspects, also teenagers, were tried for the murder but found not guilty.

Witnesses estimated that around ten people were involved in the attack on Garry Newlove, and most or all of them had been involved in earlier incidents of vandalism. One of the three teenagers found guilty of the murder had been released on bail hours earlier after appearing in court charged with assaulting another man in the local area.

Since her husband’s death, Helen Newlove has campaigned against the UK’s binge-drink culture and calling for better training for landlords and bar staff, as well as shop workers involved in the sale of alcohol. She has more prominently campaigned to clamp down on the sort of criminal activities which contributed to the death of her husband, campaigned for stiffer sentences for serious offences, and campaigned for improved support for victims of crime – highlighting the lack of support that she and her family received after the murder, and highlighting the lack of support given to many other victims of crime (ranging from the families of murder victims to families who have been bereaved by road accidents).

Helen Newlove set up Newlove Warrington on 8 November 2008, which aims to make the town a safer and better place for people to live and to improve facilities and opportunities for the children through education and life skills for the better of communities. The three goals for the campaign were to inspire people to lead a more purposeful life; motivating people to enrich their lives; providing opportunities for positive interaction with communities.

Newlove has extended her campaign nationally by joining forces with the local and national media.


In May 2010, Newlove was given a peerage in the 2010 Dissolution Honours list. After the announcement was made Newlove commented that “I am just an ordinary woman, propelled into high profile by a set of horrifying circumstances which I wish with all my heart had never occurred.” Newlove took up her seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative on 15 July 2010 when she was introduced as Baroness Newlove, of Warrington in the County of Cheshire.

On 5 March 2021, Newlove took up the office of Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

Victims’ Commissioner

On 21 December 2012 it was announced that Helen Newlove had been appointed as the new Victims’ Commissioner, a role requiring her to liaise with ministers to offer advice on aspects of the Criminal Justice System that affect victims and witnesses. The three-year post had previously been held by Louise Casey, but had been vacant since Casey stepped down in October 2011. By 2022, she was no longer a Victims’ Commissioner.