Monday, January 17, 2011

Armed Forces Bill: 10 Jan 2011: House of Commons debates - Offending by Veterans

Armed Forces Bill: 10 Jan 2011: House of Commons debates (

Readers of this debate will see that it was wide ranging. Importantly, there was a clear focus upon the needs of former military personnel returning to civilian life and the challenges that they face. Evidence is suggesting that repeated tours of combat are contributing to poor mental health and an inability to readily settle back into civy-street. Critically, there are increasing numbers of former military personnel entering the justice system; specific numbers are still not clear. Research in the USA suggests large numbers of veterans end up offending. Here is the UK, estimates range from 3.5% to 10%, with individual prisons suggesting over 15%. The number on community orders and probation are unclear, although following feedback from Probation offices around the country, NAPO suggests as many as 12,000. Worryingly, research by various Police Forces, Local Authorities and Health practitioners suggest that numbers are increasing.

Linked to this is the often devastating impact that periods of deployment and combat has on the families of military personnel, frequently resulting in alcohol abuse, family break-up and domestic violence.

Whatever the detailed figures may eventually show, the fact that the lives of so many men and women and their families have been severely damaged cannot be ignored. Rightly, hundreds of thousands of pounds are being spent to help those with physical disabilities resulting from combat. It is now time to intensify the support to those suffering mental trauma so that they too can find a way of coping with their lives and avoid entry into the Justice System.

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