Born in the mining village of Hoyland Common near Barnsley, England, he attended Ecclesfield Grammar School. He first worked in surveying and played football. He then took a teaching qualification in Loughborough and taught Physical Education for several years before becoming a full-time author.
Hines is best known for the novel A Kestrel for a Knave (1968), which was adapted by the author for the film version Kes (1970), which was directed by Ken Loach. The story is that of a troubled schoolboy living in a poor mining village near Barnsley who finds comfort in tending a kestrel hawk named 'Kes'. Threads (1984), for which Hines wrote the script, is a speculative television drama examining the effects of nuclear war on Sheffield.
Hines wrote the scripts for the television movies SPEECH DAY (BBC Television) and SHOOTING STARS (Granada & ZDF) for director/producer John Goldschmidt.