Director General, Prisons

Phil Copple


Phil Copple has been the acting Director General of Prisons since January 2019 and was subsequently appointed to the post permanently in November 2019. Phil has worked in offender management for nearly 30 years. He joined the Prison Service in 1990 as a prison officer before undertaking a range of managerial posts at different prisons, as well as Headquarters. He took up his first Governor post at HMYOI Deerbolt in 2000. He was Governor of HMP Frankland from 2002 to 2006, after which he became Area Manager for North East prisons and then the North East Director of Offender Management within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) with responsibility for both prisons and probation in the region.

Phil became a member of the NOMS Board in 2011 and served as Director of National Operational Services, Director of High Security, Director of Public Sector Prisons and Chief Operating Officer. He had a short spell seconded to the Ministry of Justice’s Strategy Unit working on prison strategy in 2015.

Director General, Prisons

Upon creation of HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Agency in April 2017, Phil took up post as Executive Director Prisons, with responsibility for all prisons in England and the Agency’s Head of Profession for prisons. His responsibilities include:

  • Leadership of the custodial services responsibilities of HMPPS including:
  • Delivering the sentences of the court, holding those committed to safe, secure and decent prisons;
  • Developing and implementing effective strategies to promote a safe and healthy environment for prisoners, staff and visitors across the estate;
  • Ensuring effective systems are in place to prevent escapes, to maintain order in prisons and to protect the public;
  • Delivering positive regimes with purposeful activity and a rehabilitative culture across the prison estate to reduce the rate of reoffending.
  • Overall responsibility for the HMPPS security function, and Departmental lead for extremism and counter terrorism.
  • Membership of the HMPPS Executive Board, and contributing to the wider leadership of the Ministry of Justice.

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, HM Prison Service, and Ministry of Justice

Previous roles in government

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Executive Director Public Sector Prisons North