Lord Toby Harris has been Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, which is responsible for delivering national and cross-boundary consumer protection enforcement activity, since May 2013. He is also Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody that reports to the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Department of Health since 2009 and, at the request of the Minister for Prisons, is leading an Independent Review on the Deaths of Young People in Prison Custody that is due to report by Spring 2015.
He was made a Life Peer in June 1998 and is Chair of the Labour Peers. In 2013, he chaired the House of Lords Committee on the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy. He was a member of the Joint Committee on National Security from 2010 to 2014. He was also a member of the House of Lords Select Committee that reported on Personal Internet Security in 2007. He is Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Policing and Treasurer of the Parliamentary Internet and Communications Technology Forum (PICTFOR).
He was born in 1953 and graduated from Cambridge University in 1975, having studied Natural Sciences and Economics and where he was President of the Cambridge Union. His professional career began with four years in the Economics Division of the Bank of England. He then spent seven years at the Electricity Consumers’ Council, becoming Deputy Director in 1983. In 1987, he became Director of the Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (the national statutory body representing patients’ interests). He remained there until October 1998, when he established his own public affairs consultancy, Toby Harris Associates, which advises a number of major public and private sector bodies.
He was a member of the London Assembly from May 2000 to June 2004, on which he led the Labour Group and he was the first Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). He continued to sit on the MPA from 2004 until 2012, as the representative of the Home Secretary with a remit to oversee the national and international functions of the Metropolitan Police – primarily its role in counter-terrorism and security. He also oversaw their risk management and audit, and was the interim chair of the Audit Panel for the Metropolitan Police Service and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
He was a member of Haringey Council from 1978 to 2002 and was its Leader from 1987 to 1999, having previously spent five years as Chair of Social Services. He was Chair of the Association of London Government, representing the 33 local authorities in London, from its formation in 1995 until 2000, having previously chaired the Association of London Authorities.
From 1986 to 1993, he was Chair of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities’ Social Services Committee and led for local government in negotiations about the introduction of Community Care and the Children Act. He was also a member of the Executive (and later a Vice President) of the Local Government Association for a number of years. He was also a member of the Executive of the Association of Police Authorities from 2000 to 2006 and was a Vice President from 2006 until 2012.
He was the first Chair of the Institute of Commissioning Professionals, has been a non-executive director of the London Ambulance Service, a Senior Associate of the Kings Fund, and a member of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants. He is a former member of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union.