Reformist prisons inspector dies at 73

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The Independent Online

Sir Stephen Tumim, the former prisons watchdog, whose pressure on successive home secretaries brought "slopping out" to an end, has died.

Sir Stephen, 73, the chief inspector of prisons from 1987 to 1995 and the best-known civil servant in the country, died "suddenly but peacefully" on Monday while on holiday in the Galapagos Islands.

The liberal judge - who repeatedly clashed with Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary in the 1990s - achieved national prominence after a series of damning reports focused public attention on the state of Britain's jails. His work led to the end of the humiliating ritual of slopping out and the installation of lavatories in every prison cell in the country.

Dorothy Salmon, the director of the Koestler Awards Trust, of which Sir Stephen was chairman, said: "We're all absolutely devastated. Sir Stephen was a great human being and totally committed to the trust. We all had the greatest regard and respect for him. He really brought the prison system out of former centuries and achieved much to make them more humane."

Martin Narey, the Home Office's commissioner for correctional services, described Sir Stephen's work in the jails as a "beacon of hope".

Mark Leech, founder of former-offenders' charity Unlock, of which Sir Stephen was president, said: "He did an enormous amount of good."

Knighted in 1996, he leaves a wife, Winifred, and daughters Matilda, Emma and Olivia.