Tuesday, December 06, 2011

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.

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