Friday, March 19, 2010

Veterans in Prison - Future Rehabilitation Needs

The MOD and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have recently issued data on the number of veterans in prison in England and Wales. The Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) of the MOD have estimated that ex-Service personnel in prison represent almost 3% of offenders in prison.

The estimate was determined by matching a database of prisoners aged 18 and over in England and Wales from the MoJ against a database of Service leavers held by the MOD. The 3% figure compares with the Home Office survey of 2,000 nationally representative offenders at the point of release in 2001, 2003 and 2004, which reported the Armed Forces proportion to be 6%, 4% and 5% respectively.

What has not been considered is the number of veterans who are on Probation and other forms of community sentences, as well as those who are homeless and suffering with depression, PTSD and alcohol and drug misuse. Evidence suggests that as more veterans leave the services following extensive periods of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the numbers needing intensive rehabilitation support will grow significantly. Without such support, many more will end up entering the justice system, either in prison or on Probation. Whilst the 3% fig is lower than previously estimated by NAPO, the fig is still very distrubing, and in the absence of Probation numbers, a sad reflection of the country's failure to support our veterans after they have put their lives on the line for the country.

Much more investment in appropriate and focussed rehabilitation support for veterans is still needed.

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