Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If ever in doubt!

If ever anybody was in doubt about the work of our military in Afghanistan, please take a look at this short film - about 45 Commando Royal Marines .

Having done so, please go on to remember the impact that combat has had on so many of our troops, including those who have been imprisoned! Remember the Military Covenant? To imprison our veterans surely cannot be right!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Reducing Re-offending by Veterans - Failing the Military Covenant

Insider information suggests that the current Prison Service National Offender Management Information System is flawed as not all assessments are including data on veterans on reception into the prison system. This is apparently down to lack of staff and time restraints.

"HM Prison Service is well aware of the high numbers of Veterans in the prison system, but a state of denial is being maintained as there are far reaching issues and ramifications if they lift the lid on this can of worms"!

Although some prisons have instigated veteran support groups, Michael Spur (Head of NOMS) has directed that Veterans will not be given any priority treatment whilst in the prison system. This decision fails to acknowledge the special needs and circumstances of veterans, particularly those suffering with combat related mental trauma and depression, often years after leaving the military. Only those who have personal experience of high intensity combat can understand the damaging impact this can have.

When will the PM and other Ministers recognise the special needs of veterans and the nation's failure to apply the Military Covenant? Having put their lives on the line for their country, veteran offenders and their families deserve better.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Reducing Re-offending - Children in Care

Statistics published by the Department for Education in September 2011 show that there are over 65,000 children in care, an increase of 5,000 in the last decade, while the number of adoptions has declined.

The report goes on to describe how children in the care of local authorities are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. The proportion of care leavers not in education, employment or training increased to 33 per cent in 2011. Furthermore, looked after children are more likely to suffer emotional or mental health problems, with estimates between 45 to 60 per cent compared to 10 per cent of children on average.

As part of a renewed focus on looked after children, the government is supporting local partnerships to develop a range of intensive cost effective and evidence-based interventions for children in care or custody.

Let us hope that this renewed effort will also see increased support for those children with parents already in the Justice system. By investing in the rehabilitation of parents we will generate savings in the ongoing costs associated with children in care.

Reducing Re-offending by Military Veterans

In 2010 the MOD and MoJ suggested that 3.5% of the prison population were military veterans. Similar percenatges were seen within Probation Trusts, bringing the total in the justice system to approximately 9,000. Of note, many individual prisons are now reporting between 10% and 14% of their prisoners are veterans, with Probation Trusts reporting increasing numbers on community orders.

Whichever figures are correct, if seen against the more general throughput of offenders into and out of the system over any given year, veterans represent the largest single occupational group within the justice system. When recognising the Military Covenant, where the country has pledged to care and support our veterans and their families, this surely cannot be seen as right or justifiable. Those who defend our country and put their lives on the line, deserve better. Rightly we provide considerable support to those wiith physical injuries, yet those with mental health and other issues receive little help.

The impact that this has on veteran families can be profound, often resulting in family breakdown, increasing social costs and children in care. These children go on to become amongst the most vulnerable groups in society, and are themselves more likely to suffer mental health problems, achieve less academically and be exposed to future criminality and unemployment.

Ken Clarke has called for a 'Re-habilitation Revolution' in the justice system. Veterans must be a priority group.