Aug 252014
 

General David John Ramsbotham

General David John Ramsbotham, Baron Ramsbotham GCB, CBE ( he was born the 6th of November in the year of 1934 ) is a retired British Army officer, who later served as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons. He was awarded a life peerage in 2005, and now sits on the cross benches of the House of Lords.

Early life and military career
Ramsbotham was born in 1934, the son of a Church of England clergyman, later Bishop of Wakefield, John Alexander Ramsbotham, son of Rev Alexander Ramsbotham. Ramsbotham was educated at Haileybury and Imperial Service College. He entered the army through National Service, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery on 14th March in 1953. He completed his National Service as an acting lieutenant, and retained a Territorial Army commission. He then took a history degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

On 21st February 1958 he was appointed to a regular army commission as a lieutenant, with seniority from 31st January 1957. He was promoted to Captain on 31st January 1961. He served in Borneo during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation as an acting major in the period 24 December 1965 to 23rd of June 1966, and was Mentioned in Despatches. He was promoted to substantive major on 31 December 1967, and to lieutenant-colonel on 30th June 1971. From 11th June 1970 to the of 20th June 1973 he served as Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Michael Carver. This was a particularly busy time for the British Army; the Troubles in Northern Ireland were beginning, and the army’s contribution, Operation Banner, was taking an increasingly large proportion of resources

For his performance in this role, Ramsbotham was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1974 New Year Honours. He later commanded a battalion of the Royal Green Jackets in Northern Ireland from 1974 to 1975.
He was elevated to Colonel on 30th June 1976, and brigadier on 31st December 1978 (with seniority from 30th June 1978). He then served in Northern Ireland, commanding a brigade based in Belfast, and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service there in the operational honours of 21st October 1980. His career was almost derailed when as the army’s director of public relations (a position he held from 1982–84 he leaked documents to a journalist which showed that prior to the Falklands War the army had developed a comprehensive plan for dealing with the media, but it had been overlooked; and the army was subsequently criticised for not having done such planning. He was then promoted to major-general and commanded 3rd Armoured Division for a period prior to 13th March 1987. On the 1st January 1987 he was appointed to the honorary position of Colonel Commandant, 2nd Battalion, Royal Green Jackets, in succession to Sir Frank Kitson, which he held until 25th July 1992.

On 15th April 1987 he was promoted lieutenant-general and appointed Commander UK Field Army and Inspector General of the Territorial Army. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and a further honorary appointment as Honorary Colonel of the Officer Training Corps at the University of Cambridge on 1st July, which he held until 1st May 1993. He stepped down as Commander of the Field Army on 13th August 1990, and received a further honorary appointment as Aide de Camp General to HM the Queen (ADC Gen) on 3 December 1990, which he held until his retirement form the army. On 27th December 1990 he was appointed Adjutant-General (AG), with the local rank of general, and he received substantive promotion to that rank on 24th January 1990 (with seniority from the 1st of September 1990). This period included the United Kingdom’s involvement in the Gulf War He was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in the 1993 New Year Honours He stepped down as AG on 17th May 1993, and retired from the army on 13th July 1993.

Chief Inspector of Prisons
Ramsbotham was Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales from 1st December 1995to 2001 when he was succeeded by Anne Owers CBE. As Chief Inspector of Prisons, he had an at times strained relationship with Home Secretaries Michael Howard and Jack Straw, and this contributed to his contract not being continued for the full eight years that had originally been possible (an initial period of five years, with extension for a further three years possible).

Recent activities
On 22nd of March 2005, it was announced that Ramsbotham was to be elevated to a life peerage. The title was gazetted as Baron Ramsbotham, of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on 17th May. He sits in the House of Lords as a crossbench peer. He is Chairman of the Koestler Awards scheme, and Vice-Chair of both the All Party Penal Affairs Group and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Learning and Skills in the Criminal Justice System. He is President of UNLOCK, The National Association of Ex-Offenders and an Ambassador for the charity, the Prison Advice and Care Trust (pact). He is a trustee and vice-Chairman of the Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour.

He was elected an honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 2001, and serves on the advisory board of the International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College London. He is also a Patron of Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families, and Prisoners Education Trust, a charity that supports serving prisoners through a range of academic, creative and vocational distance learning courses whilst inside. He is also a Patron of the African Prisons Project, an international non-governmental organisation with a mission to bring dignity and hope to men women and children in African prisons through health, education, justice and reintegration. He is President of the charity PTSD Resolution, Charity number 1133188, providing treatment to Veterans with post traumatic stress through its UK-wide network of 200 therapists.

He as written extensively on matters relating to prisons and the military, in particular his 2003 book (Prisongate ): The Shocking State of Britain’s Prisons and the Need for Visionary Change sets out his vision for reform of the prison system.

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