Monday, December 16, 2013

Military Veterans in Civilian Prisons

This is undoubtedly a complex topic with many conflicting views.  Critically, over the last few years the number of veterans in prison has continued to rise with approximately 6.6% of the prison population (5,500) now veterans.  Greater numbers are on probation and community punishment orders.  Something clearly has been going wrong and needs to be addressed.

As many readers will know, over the last 5 years, here in Devon we have been developing a project (The Veterans Change Partnership).  Based upon a proven residential programme of personal development and change, it is specifically intended to help rehabilitate and support veteran offenders and their families - .

The partnership of over 30 public, private and voluntary sector organisations included support from Local Authorities, the NHS, Police, Probation and JCP.  Despite this, our application to the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR fund to establish the programme was recently turned down; the project was clearly not considered sufficiently worthy. 

The panel responsible included representatives from some of the leading military charities.  Sadly, the outdated and punitive belief that punishment promotes positive change and behaviour remains extant.  I fear that until those in positions of authority are able to understand that such an approach merely re-enforces  the negative thoughts and feelings of the offender and fails to address the underlying needs, little will change.

It is to be very much hoped that the Sgt Blackman case will serve as a catalyst in helping to promote increased awareness and much needed positive change.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Veterans Change Partnership (VCP) = LIBOR Bid

The Dame Hannah Rogers Trust has kindly agreed to the VCP being run at their Seale Hayne property near Newton Abbot in Devon.  As part of the Partnership, Duchy College has now also signed up to be involved and to assist with delivery of the course content.   Following this excellent news, a revised bid for £1.8M to the MOD LIBOR fund has now been submitted. If successful, work to establish the programme will begin in the New Year. 

Watch this Space!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Battle Scarred - Channel 5 Postponed Viewing of last two Programmes

'Battle Scarred' - Originally produced for Channel 5 as a 4 week documentary series describing the key issues associated with the increasing number of military veterans entering the Criminal Justice System - only 2 of the series have so far been shown.   
These excellent films, made by Chris Terrill, should be essential viewing for all concerned about meeting the Military Covenant and reducing re-offending.

Regrettably, apparently owing to coverage of the Boston bombing and Margaret Thatcher's funeral arrangements, the viewing figs for the second film were considered low.  As a consequence, Channel 5 has now decided to postpone the last two films.  This decision can only be seen as a failure to understand the importance of the films and the story they told. 

We can only hope that Channel 5 will review its decision and show the last two episodes soon.   
Those interested in this important topic can see the first two films on the internet. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Battle Scarred - An Excellent 4 Part Documentary Reduced to 2!

'Battle Scarred' - 8th Apr 13 for 4 weeks - Channel 5 at 22.00 new 4 part film documentary describing the key issues associated with military veterans entering the Criminal Justice System.
These excellent films were made by Chris Terrill and provide a great insight into the issues associated with veteran offenders.  They are a must for all those concerned about meeting the Military Covenant and reducing re-offending.
Please pass to all your contacts. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slipping Through The Cracks by Carole McEntee -Taylor

A truly moving portrayal describing the desperate plight of a homeless veteran suffering with mental health issues and the failure of society to recognise and meet his needs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

'Violence risk' after military tours - Research by King's College London

King's College London have today published a report describing how younger members of the armed forces returning from duty are more likely to commit violent offences than the rest of the population. 

Researchers analysed data from nearly 14,000 UK service personnel who had served in wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.   They highlighted a particular issue in younger men and those who had combat roles or who had experienced a traumatic experience.  The results in the Lancet medical journal come 10 years after the start of the war in Iraq.

Prof Simon Wessely, from King's College London said, "Those who are in combat roles are themselves slightly different from those who are not."

"The military don't select chess-playing choir boys. They select people who often come from difficult and aggressive backgrounds and they're the ones who are most likely to end up in the parts of the military that do the actual fighting".

All that said, the fact that the MOD asked for the study and has now publicly acknowledged the problem is a major step forward.  Now we must all work to address the needs.

In doing so, we must also understand that for some the problems do not arise until many years after leaving the service.  This includes increasing numbers of individuals self-harming and attempting / committing suicide and sleeping rough on our streets and in our countryside.   Evidence shows that these mental health problems have existed for many years and can evidenced following other conflicts such as Northern Ireland, Falklands War and Bosnia. 

Critically, once  the individual has left the military the problem relies on the NHS and the Voluntary sector picking up the pieces.   Sadly, until now, the reaction of society to these acts of violence has been to send the individuals to prison; an act of retribution that is supposed to help address their problems!  I wonder if we are now, at last, beginning to learn that this is not appropriate?

Unfortunately, too few professionals understand the issues and how the military life has impacted upon the individual's mind and the lives of their families.  More awareness training is required.  That said, clearly today's new is a good start and we must now build upon it. 

Here in Devon, 29 different public, private and VCS organisations are developing a new project called the Veterans Change Partnership.  The consortia intend to provide a programme of coordinated rehabilitation post custody, and an alternative to custody as a means of diverting veterans away from the justice system.  It will include pre course motivation and assessment sessions, an 11 week residential and positive experiential period of personal development, skills training and therapy work, followed by peer mentoring into accommodation and work.  Efforts are currently being made to secure start up and ongoing funding.

The project is currently being led by Trevor Philpott, a former Lt Col RM who has been involved in promoting penal reform for the last 15 years.  More information can be found at 

Monday, February 18, 2013

What is being done to stop our soldiers killing themselves?

Young men leaving the British armed forces are up to three times more likely to commit suicide than their civilian counterparts, a study has shown.

This article in the Metro highlights a truly disturbing fact that must be addressed.  Many others suffer in silence and end up in prison, their lives and those of their families often broken.  and

What has happened to the spirit supposedly enshrined in the Military Covenant that this situation arises? Are we all simply in denial?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reducing Re-offending by Addressing Behaviour

Attempting to reduce re-offending and other work with hard to reach groups can be challenging and stressful; however, it does not have to be.   
A new range of associated online Induction and Foundation courses by Life Change Initiative have been designed to reduce that stress, making work more enjoyable and satisfying whilst also improving outcomes.  Importantly, they are cost effective. 
Take a look at the new online e-learning courses at -

A special offer for the courses will run for two months between 1 Feb and 31 Mar 13