Meet the team

Chief Inspector


Sue McAllister, interim HM Chief Inspector of Probation

Sue McAllister joined the Inspectorate as interim Chief Inspector in October 2023. She came to the organisation following an extensive career in criminal justice, namely in the prison service, starting as an Assistant Governor where she spent 25 years working in different roles in the service, including as Governor of HMP Gartree and HMYOI Onley. She was Head of Security Group from 2004 to 2005 and Area Manager for the 12 prisons in the West Midlands between 2005 and 2009. In this role, Sue was a member of the NOMS Operational Policy Group and the Gold command team.

From 2012 to 2016, Sue was Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and Director of Reducing Offending in the Northern Ireland Department of Justice. In this role, Sue led a programme of reform across NIPS, transforming the service from one focussed on security to one which prioritised decency and respect and had reducing offending at its core.

Sue’s most recent role, from 2018 to 2022, was as Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO). The PPO investigates complaints from those in prison and under probation supervision and conducts independent investigations into deaths in custody and of those who die in Approved Premises.

Chief Operating Officer

Marc Baker director operations

Marc Baker, Chief Operating Officer

Marc joined the Inspectorate on 1 May 2018, he has over 20 years experience in Change and Programme Management from Ofqual where he was Chief Operating Officer. Prior to this, he spent two years as a Programme Director with the Solicitors Regulation Authority and many years as a management consultant working in a number of organisations including NATO, the City of London Police and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Heads of Functions

Simi O’Neill, Head of Probation Inspection Programme

Simi qualified as a probation officer in 2004, and worked in Greater Manchester as a probation officer and various managerial positions, including offender management, unpaid work and integrated offender management. Simi joined HMI Probation as an inspector in early 2016, and has led small youth inspections, thematic inspections, adult core inspections and has been involved in a number of Joint Targeted Inspections. In 2020 Simi was appointed the Head of NPS Inspections – now Head of Probation Inspection Programme following the unification of probation services in June 2021.

Andrea Brazier, Head of Youth Inspection Programme

Andrea joined the Inspectorate – as our Head of Youth Inspection Programme – in July 2021. She was previously the Service Manager for Young People at Wiltshire Council and has worked in the youth justice sector for the past 11 years. She was a qualified probation and senior probation officer for more than a decade before moving into youth justice. Her past roles have included senior practitioner within a youth offending team (YOT), YOT manager, and Early Help Service Manager. Prior to her arrival at the Inspectorate, Andrea developed and led the local authority team dedicated to tackling Child Exploitation and extra familial harm, as well as working with families where children were at risk of becoming looked after. Andrea brings a wealth of experience to our youth inspection programme, and an ambition to ensure the best possible outcomes for all children under supervision.


Andy Bonny, Head of Operations Management

Andy joined the Civil Service in 1987 and has worked in a number of departments including what was then the Department for Social Security, the Home Office, as well as the Ministry of Justice. Andy joined HMI Probation in 2000 as Deputy Audit Manager for the Audit of Accredited Programmes.

He is now Head of Operations Management with oversight for support services as well as being responsible for the scheduling and resourcing of inspections.


Diane Bramall, Head of Communications

Diane joined HM Inspectorate of Probation in 2020. Diane was originally a broadcast journalist, on radio, before moving into the world of communications. She has worked for Cheshire East Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, the BBC Sport and Radio 5 live publicity team and the Independent Office for Police Conduct. She has led large-scale, national campaigns and events, and has significant experience of crisis communications.


Helen Davies, Head of Thematic & Joint Inspections

Helen has over twenty years’ experience of working within the Criminal Justice System as both a practitioner and senior manager. Starting her career as a probation officer, Helen then moved to set up and manage a youth offending team. Later, as Head of Improvement at the Youth Justice Board, Helen led the youth offending team national performance improvement programme.

Helen joined HMI Probation in 2009 and has been responsible for inspections across all programmes.  In her current role, Helen works closely with other inspectorates within criminal justice and child protection. Helen is a fluent Welsh speaker and has responsibility for HMI Probation’s Welsh Language Scheme.


Helen Mercer, Head of Policy and Standards

Helen has twenty years experience in the youth justice sector in practitioner, leadership, strategy and policy roles across community and custodial settings. Helen is a qualified probation officer and joined HMI Probation as an Inspector in 2014. Prior to that Helen was part of the senior management team at the Youth Justice Board leading national youth resettlement programmes.



Dr Robin Moore, Head of Research

Robin joined HM Inspectorate of Probation as Head of Research in 2015. He provides strategic direction to the Inspectorate’s research team and oversees the team’s research products and the analytical support to adult, youth and thematic inspections. Robin has over 20 years’ experience of managing and conducting quantitative and qualitative research projects. He was previously Head of the Research Programme within the National Offender Management Service, and has also worked in academia. He has published on a range of topics including assessment, interventions, intensive supervision, persistent offenders, financial penalties, and evidence-informed practice.


Liz Smith, Head of Inspection Methodology and Assurance

Liz joined the world of probation as a volunteer in 1980, and then worked as a PSO, PO, and SPO, covering tasks including Unpaid Work, Programmes, Approved Premises, and Magistrates and Crown Court Liaison. As an Assistant Chief Officer, she managed a large rural LDU, and led her Probation Trust on public protection and safeguarding. She was involved in joint regional quality improvement projects between prisons and Probation Trusts in the Midlands. Since joining HMI Probation in 2013, Liz has led inspections in the adult and youth sectors, and has taken the lead on POMI (joint work with HMI Prisons). She also designed and led the two thematic inspections on Through the Gate resettlement services.


Mitchell James, Head of Learning, Development and Quality Assurance

Mitchell joined the Inspectorate in 2022, having spent the past decade in probation and youth justice services. His career in these fields began in 2013, at Wales Probation Trust, before qualifying as a Probation officer in London where he worked across several services and courts. He went on to work in the youth justice sector in a number of the City’s boroughs and finally making the move into the learning and development sector.

Since joining the Inspectorate, Mitchell has been responsible for introducing a learning and development strategy as well as overseeing the new, professionalisation programme for our inspectors.