Monday, February 20, 2017

Addressing the prevention of prison suicides and self-harm

At last, people are recognising that custody by itself fails to reduce offending behaviour.  Rather it merely wastes massive sums of money and human lives.  -  to change behaviour we must address the thoughts and feelings, .  With he current crisis in our prisons, change is essential and programmes such as the VCP can help with this process. 

How many veterans are committing suicide or self-harming? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lest we forget what NATO, including UK forces had to endure during operations in Bosnia and Croatia.   Yet again, this film demonstrates why it is that so many men and women suffer with PTSD and other mental illnesses often leading to entry into the CJS.

The film, made by the BBC, shows the impact of the war on the people of Bosnia and Croatia.  Our military personnel had to cope with these situations.  Yet, like Northern Ireland, many of those who we not there have forgotten what happened. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Crisis in our Prison estate by somone who has earned the ' T ' Shirt!

I commend this article and its associated blog to all who are interested in prison reform!

I Rant Therefore I Am : What Am I Doing?: ( If you wish to hear a recording of this blog I have recorded it  Here, click on the "What Am I Doing" Tab.) I sit h...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

VCP Start-up Funding Appeal

Hi All,

Readers of this blog will now that we are endeavouring to raise sufficient start-up funding to begin a programme of rehabilitation for military veteran offenders and support for their families. On our web site - you will find more details, including this link -


All and any support would be appreciated; thank you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Creating a Social Movement for Health - RSA Health

The RSA recently ran this conference at the RSA London -

Recognising that most offenders suffer with various levels of mental illness and that the conference had a strong focus on health-care in the community, the models under discussion could equally be applied with offenders in prison and the community.  I am left wondering if the MOJ will tap into the principles described. Unless they do, I regret that little will change.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Prison UK: An Insider's View of Veterans in Prison

A Prison Landing fit for Heroes?

This article, by Alex Cavendish, highlights some of the many challenges faced by military veteran offenders in prison and the numerous failings that still exist -

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Official Stats show flow of veterans into prison.

These official stats show the flow of veterans into prison over 5 months.  Regrettably, it does not show those on community orders / Probation

Between July and December 2015, 1,439 former members of the armed forces entered prison. Of these, 1,399 were male and 40 were female.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why is Change so slow?

6 years ago Erwin James wrote about veterans in prison for the Guardian .

He followed this up in Inside Time, highlighting an excellent book by veteran Jimmy Johnson -

Since then the problem has continued to grow.  Is it simply too big for the Government to care to admit to, or are they hoping that, with time, it will all go away?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

USA Veterans Incarceraton levels in Prison

The historic and current levels of US military veterans in custody suffering with PTSD are significant.   Whilst recognising the differences in size and type of military structure between the US and UK forces, there must surely be similarities in the impact of combat operations. 

Notwithstanding the somewhat political introduction, which one can either support or ignore, this US film serves to highlight other important issues and statistics, many of which can also be seen here in the UK, all of which we should be very concerned about!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Devon Forces Family Web Site

This website- been developed by the Devon Armed Forces Community Wellbeing Partnership (DAFCWP). This partnership provides strategic direction to improve the health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces Community living in Devon.

In September 2014 the DAFCWP published a South West Peninsula Veteran’s Health Needs Assessment. This report found that, of the approximately 107,000 veterans living in Devon, a large proportion had a positive experience of serving in the Armed Forces. However, a minority experienced adverse physical and mental health problems, which could be compounded by other factors such as financial and welfare problems.

This website provides an online directory of services provided for service leavers, veterans, reservists and their families living in Devon. It provides topic overviews, links to relevant information and services and access to support, including those leaving prison -

Monday, June 13, 2016

VCP Crowd Funding Appeal

We have started a new Crowd Funding appeal towards the work of the Veterans Change Partnership.  All donations are gratefully appreciated.  Please tell your friends and colleagues; thank you.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Developing Entrepreneurial talent among offenders.

In-prison entrepreneurship programmes could play a key role in preventing re-offending, according to a report by Sheena Leaf, who spent eight weeks in Norway and the USA researching programmes aimed at rehabilitating offenders through developing their entrepreneurial skills.

This report serves to highlight the positive outcomes that arise from such provision and demonstrates that punishment alone is the least effective way of reducing re-offending. 

See -

Saturday, June 04, 2016

The Liminal Space - Understanding Imprisonment and Detention Comparitively

Professor Francis Pakes gives his enlightening thoughts on prisons and their impact upon reducing re-offending - , comparing the UK / Dutch models with that of Norway.

His lecture is a must for those who have an interest in reducing re-offending and the notions of freedom vs custody and what he describes as the spiritual dimension and the normalisation and care of prisoners.  If  the UK were to establish similar approaches, the financial and human savings could be significant.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Displaying of Comments

Thank you to all those who have commented on my blog.

Whilst I am able to see these, for some reason, unbeknown to me, they are not visible to others.  Is there anybody who can assist me in rectifying this issue please?

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The Forgotten WAR - Northern Ireland

When reflecting back to the 70's it is not difficult to understand why so many military veterans have gone on to experience mental illness and ended up entering the CJS. -

The impact upon their families must also not be forgotten!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Number of Veterans in Prison continue to rise

Reports by the Chief Inspector of Prisons show that the number of military veterans in prison has continued to rise and now stands at 7%, circa 6000+, with similar numbers estimated to be on probation / community orders. 

Prisons get urgent £10m to tackle suicide and disorder - see the Guardian

An extra £10m is to be pumped into English and Welsh prisons to tackle a rising tide of violence and suicides, the justice secretary, Michael Gove, has announced.
Gove described the most recent suicide figures – more than 100 in the past 12 months – and increasing number of assaults and disorder in jails as “terrible” and cause for “considerable personal concern”. -
The extra £10m is to be made immediately available to prison governors for extra prison staff; more training, including on suicide awareness; additional equipment, including body cameras and CCTV; and on additional drug testing, including for legal highs.
“I am well aware that the most recent figures for deaths in custody and violence in prisons, which the [Commons justice select] committee’s report highlights, are terrible,” he said in a letter to the committee published on Tuesday.

US Army Veterans Suicide Rate

The USA recently declared that, on average, 22 US Army Veterans were committing suicide daily.  Clearly UK numbers are no where near this total; however, it is indicative of the massive impact mental illness can have on those who have suffered traumatic experiences in combat.  Those providing therapy are struggling to meet the demand and many veteran are ending up in prison.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

VCP Endorsement by Bear Grylls

The majority of former military personnel return to civilian life and forge very successful second careers, many starting their own businesses or reaching senior leadership positions.   Regrettably, an increasing number are finding themselves in prison or on probation.  Currently military veterans represent 7% of the prison population, the largest single occupational group within the custodial estate (circa 6,000).  Similar numbers are on probation  and community orders.  Others are homeless, suicidal  or experiencing family breakdown.  

I believe that the Veterans Change Partnership (VCP) has the potential to reduce re-offending and by inspiring, equipping and doing, enable veteran offenders to rebuild their lives and re-establish the sense of pride and self worth they once knew.   I fully endorse the endeavours and objectives of the VCP and hope that others will also be inspired to do so too.
Bear Grylls
July 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Adams County Veterans Court -USA

The average percentage of military veterans in prison within the UK is over 6%.

This yet another example of how the USA is increasingly addressing the needs of their veteran offender community -

Will the UK authorities have the courage to pilot similar courts here in the UK?

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Parliamentary Veterans Debate includng Offenders

The latest Parliamentary debate on the plight of veterans and their mental health can be seen here -

Importantly, it highlights the long term impact of mental health issues on veterans and the number who, through a lack of resources and support are becoming homeless and or entering the criminal justice system.  This debate is to be welcomed and once again highlights the duty of care required under the Military Covenant.

Elfyn Llwyd, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd stressed the growing problem of veteran offenders and the numbers in prison. From the debate it is clear that more research is required into the numbers of veterans in prison and on probation.  Out-dated figs from Sep 10 are still being used. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Vulnerable Veterans - More Evidence reaches No 10.

Success for Manchester military veteran - increasing awareness of key issues impacting upon military veterans - 

A King’s College London study estimates that up to one in five British soldiers leaving the frontline this year will suffer some form of mental illness.

Forces charity Combat Stress has warned that up to 50,000 British service personnel could develop mental health problems in the future.

Sadly, many will go on to be convicted and sent to prison.  Is this to be how society treats our most vulnerable veterans?

Please sign our petition and spread the word -

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tackling the Gang Culture

Time to wake up and tackle gangs epidemic

Police crackdown on gang leaders not enough, CSJ warns

A strategy to remove gang leaders following last year’s riots may have created more violence on the streets of British cities, a major report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has highlighted.

The study, which received widespread media coverage and endorsement, reviews political efforts to tackle gangs a year after the riots.

The paper, Time to Wake Up, also highlights an escalation in the number of school pupils being drawn into gangs with children attending classes wearing rival colours.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Veterans in the Criminal Justice System and Mental Health

Self-harm and Attempted Suicide among UK Armed Forces Personnel

Research through 821 telephone interviews was conducted by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research.  Participants were asked about attempted suicide and episodes of self-harm -

Results indicated a lifetime prevalence of 5.6% for intentional self-harm or attempted suicide.   Intentional self-harm was associated with psychological morbidity (in particular, post-traumatic stress disorder) and adverse experiences in childhood.  Ex-service personnel reported lifetime prevalence more than double that of serving personnel (10.5% vs 4.2%, respectively), indicating that life after service was particularly difficult. 

Importantly, the research indicated that a lifetime prevalence of 5.6% for attempted suicide and self-harm was higher than previous research had suggested.  Furthermore, it highlighted that younger service personnel, those who have experienced adversity in childhood, those with other psychological morbidity and ex-service personnel are more likely to report self-harm behaviours.    

Combat Stress has suggested that we are facing a potential tsunami, with upwards of 50,000 veterans suffering mental health illness.  One is left asking why these increases are occurring and why so many individuals are being failed.   Whilst those with physical injuries are receiving the best possible initial care and support, those with mental health issues are clearly being let down.  As a consequence, many are also experiencing family breakdown, the wider care and health costs of which will continue to rise!

Official Defence Analytical and Advice (DASA) Figures -

The MOJ estimates that approximately 75% - 80% of prisoners suffer with some degree of mental health illness.  This condition is particularly relevant for veterans.

In Sep 10 DASA research indicated that the percentage of military veterans in custody was approximately 4% of the total prison population - 3,500.  This research was based upon two incomplete data base that were not originally intended for cross referencing.  Furthermore, the figures did not include Scotland and NI, Reservists or Early Service Leavers (ESLs).

Critically, the original research represented only a snap shot of the numbers on a given date.  Importantly, it failed to recognise the fluid nature of the prison population with approximately 150,000 prisoners entering and leaving custody each year.  Using the DASA figures against the flow of prisoners, suggests that 6,000 veterans could have entered custody during 2010.   

More recent anecdotal evidence from various prisons suggests that veteran prisons numbers have increased and range between 6% and 8%.   As examples, approximately 11% of prisoners in HMP Leyhill are veterans.   In HMP Exeter there are currently 23 veterans (4.5%), of whom 60% have been diagnosed with PTSD. 

Similar evidence is being identified by Probation.  When recognising an annual Probation Service Managed Offender Group of 241,000 offenders, the overall numbers of veterans on Community Orders could be as many as 12,000 – 14,000. 

When combining prison and probation numbers, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the average annual total entering and leaving the CJS is in excess of 18,000.  Once again, these numbers do not include Scotland, NI, reservists or those less than 18 yrs of age that may include ESLs.  In addition, it is estimated that 10% -12% of the homeless population are veterans.  Many of these will end up being involved in criminal activity and alcohol / substance misuse. 

Armed Forces Covenant - Extract from the MOD Web Site

‘The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the Nation, the State and the Armed Forces.  It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.

It exists to redress the disadvantages that the Armed Forces community faces in comparison to other citizens, and to recognise sacrifices made.   In some cases this will require special consideration, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.

The principle behind the Covenant is that the Armed Forces Community should not face disadvantage because of its military experience.  In some cases, such as the sick, injured or bereaved, this means giving special consideration to enable access to public or commercial services that civilians wouldn’t receive.  The Covenant covers issues from housing and education to support after Service.  It is crucial to the Government that it, and the nation, recognises the unique and immense sacrifices military personnel / veterans have made for their country.’


The number of veterans suffering with various levels of mental health issues, inflicting self-harm, experiencing family breakdown and entering the criminal justice system is growing and represents a particularly unique group of service users.  The majority have faced significant dangers and pressures, often putting their lives on the line in defence of the country.   Within the spirit enshrined within the Armed Forces Covenant, they and their families deserve better.  Like those with multiple physical injuries, they need access to specialist intervention and rehabilitation programmes, not simply punitive punishment; they have surely been punished enough! 

Providing access to such provision will enable the majority to quickly change their lives, gain employment, re-establish family links and again become the proud and worthy citizens they once were.   In times of severe austerity, it would also provide a relatively simple ‘Win’ ‘Win’ financial outcome.

Veterans Change Partnership

Working in the spirit of the Devon Community Covenant, here in Devon efforts are being made to establish a new partnership, The Veterans Change Partnership, with the aim of providing appropriate re-habilitation courses and alternatives to custody and probation for veterans.  The organisations currently expressing interest include:-

Alabare’ Christian Care and Support
Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust
Devon County Council
Exeter City Council
Devon PCT
Exeter City YMCA
Grow4Good SW Ltd
House of Heroes
Hush Farms Ltd
Job Centre Plus
Life Change Initiative
NOMS / HMP Service
Occombe Farm
PTSD Resolution
St Loyes Trust
The Langley House Trust
Torbay Council
The Warrior Programme

The programme would include an intensive residential phase of personal development, life, functional and social skills training, followed by peer mentored support into accommodation, further training and work.

Recognising veterans and their families as a unique and particularly deserving user group, the concept meets the spirit enshrined within the Military and Community Covenants, the Safer Community Partnership and Families agendas.

Importantly, with their background in training and personal discipline, when placed in the right environment, this group of offenders would be particularly suitable for such a programme, enabling them to quickly return to productive work and lives.

The keys to starting the programme are political support at a local level and initial pump priming finance, all of which is being sought.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Veterans and the Justice System: The Next Forensic Frontier

There is a growing recognition of the unique clinical challenges of veterans, the likelihood and risk of veterans’ involvement in the criminal justice system, and the need for forensic assessment and treatment that show a better understanding of veterans’ needs. Focused and thoughtful attention to the mental health needs of veterans, in this author's opinion, represents the next frontier of forensic practice.

This report by Debra A. Pinals, MD, reflects research in the USA - .  We would be naive to think that similar issues are not reflected in the UK military and Justice systems.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Managing PTSD - Trauma on Film

I wonder how many people would be able to manage their thoughts and feelings when faced with a situation such as this - .  Yet all we do is eventually lock them up!

Numbers of Military Veterans in the Justice System continue to Rise

Extract from the MOD web site

‘The Armed Forces Covenant sets out the relationship between the Nation, the State and the Armed Forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces and their families, and it establishes how they should expect to be treated.

It exists to redress the disadvantages that the Armed Forces community faces in comparison to other citizens, and to recognise sacrifices made. In some cases this will require special consideration, especially for those who have given the most such as the injured and the bereaved.

The principle behind the Covenant is that the Armed Forces Community should not face disadvantage because of its military experience. In some cases, such as the sick, injured or bereaved, this means giving special consideration to enable access to public or commercial services that civilians wouldn’t receive. The Covenant covers issues from housing and education to support after Service. It is crucial to the Government that it, and the nation, recognises the unique and immense sacrifices military personnel / veterans have made for their country.’
Increasing Numbers of Veterans in the Justice System

Nick Wood is a former senior Prison Officer and national point of contact for all Veterans in Custody (VIC) Support Officers.   He now runs a consultancy business as a Veterans Awareness & Interventions Training Provider.  During his time at HMP Everthorpe (2009 - 2011) he compiled 18 months worth of hard data, making face to face contact with Veterans, whilst also collecting similar data from other VIC Support officers in England and Wales. 

The figures included regulars, reservists and those under 18 who may have left as Early Service Leavers (ESLs).  Over 18 months the average percentage of veterans in HMP Everthorpe was between 5% and 6% of the prison’s numbers.  Figures from other prisons in the Yorks and Humber area were similar. 

More recent figures from various prisons around the country, including HMP Bristol suggest as many as 8% of the prison population are now military veterans.  Of note, approximately 11% of those in HMP Leyhill are veterans.   In HMP Exeter there are currently 23 veterans (4.5%).   60% of these have been diagnosed with PTSD and 20% were convicted within 9-12 months of an operational tour in Afghanistan and or Iraq.  Interestingly, most offences were linked to alcohol.
Historically within HMP Doncaster (A Local Remand Prison with a high turnover short duration and average stay approximately 13 weeks) there are on average 30 veterans at any one time.  One of the governors has highlighted a further national problem in identifying veterans.   Many are unwilling to say that they are a veteran; even those attending some of the focus groups in prison stated they wished to keep their identity to themselves when they first arrived:  -  ‘Hero to Zero’ embarrassment; avoiding being targeted by other prisoners; maintaining a 'Grey Man' defence. 

Official Defence Analytical and Advice (DASA) Figures  

In Jun 09 the MOD and MOJ released DASA research figures indicating that the percentage of veterans in custody was 3.5% of the prison population.   In Sep 10 this was revised to 4%. 

Critically, this research was flawed.  It was based upon two incomplete data base that were not originally intended or designed for cross referencing.  Furthermore, the figures did not include Scotland and NI, Reservists or ESLs. 

Importantly, the original research represented only a brief snap shot of the numbers on a given day in Jun 09 and Sep 10.   This failed to recognise that the prison population is fluid with approximately 150,000 prisoners entering and leaving custody each year.   Based upon the Jun 09 DASA figures of 3.5%, this suggests that 5,250 veterans could have entered custody during that year.   Using Mr Wood’s data and an average of 5.5%, that number would rise to approximately 8,250.  To this we need to add those in Scotland and NI + reservists and ESLs. 

When including similar percentages of 5% - 6% as part of the Probation Service Managed Offender Group of 241,000 offenders, the overall numbers of veterans on Community Orders could be as many as 12,000 – 14,000. 

When combining prison and probation numbers, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the average total within the CJS is in excess of 22,000. 

Other Statistics 

Criminal Justice Annual Statistics 

In the 12 months ending March 2012, the annual Criminal Justice Statistics report stated that 1.96 million individuals were given an out of court disposal or proceeded against at court. These figures include Police, Probation, Courts and Prison – see page 4 @

Whilst acknowledging that there will be exceptions and that there will probably be some level of polarisation within the various service user groups, if one applied the DASA 3.5% figures against this data, in theory there could be over 35,000 veterans within the CJS at any one time.   If one then used the 5% - 6% figures, the total could rise to 50,000.   

Once again, such numbers would not include those in Scotland, NI, reservists or those under 18 yrs that may include ESLs.  Either way, the potential numbers are very disturbing and fly in the face of the spirit enshrined within the Armed Forces Covenant.  

Kent Police Study

In 2010 Kent Police conducted a 3 month study during which they arrested 232 ex-service personnel.    73 were for violent offences and just under40% were unemployed.   About four in 10 were aged between 18 and 29. 

In a study of 90 veterans on probation or parole, it was found that one-in-three suffered from chronic alcohol abuse with one-in-ten abused illegal drugs.  


The number of veterans within the CJS is significantly higher than that suggested by the MOJ and MOD.  The reasons for individuals entering the CJS are numerous and well documented.  Importantly, many veterans end up within the justice system years after leaving the service.   Faced with this evidence, one is left asking why they are not being adequately supported to avoid such an outcome? 

Within the spirit of the Armed Forces Military Covenant, the state has an obligation to undertake and provide special support and rehabilitation to veterans.  Those with physical injuries are receiving the best possible care and support; however, those with other issues, including mental health, are not. 


The number of military veterans within the CJS is growing and represents a unique group of service users.   Within the spirit enshrined within the Armed Forces Covenant, they both deserve and need access to specialist intervention and rehabilitation programmes.   Providing access to such provision will save large sums of CJS money and enable the majority to quickly change their lives, gain employment and once again become proud and worthy citizens.  It would provide a simple ‘Win’ ‘Win’ outcome for the veterans, their families and the Nation. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Funding Support to Rehabilitate Veteran Offenders

Whilst applauding the current and planned support for veterans with physical injuries, much more needs to be provided to help those suffering mental illness. 

The reality is that veteran mental health problems tend not to be recognised until many years after leaving the service, by which time those suffering such injuries have often lost their way in life.  With feelings of confusion, fear, poor self-worth, guilt and shame, family breakdown and suicide rates are increasing.  Similarly, more veterans are ending up in prison or on probation. 

Within the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant, the Nation pledged to care and support our veterans and their families.  Yet those suffering mental illness are often not understood and lack the most basic support.  The cost to the Nation is considerable, with many millions of pounds each year being spent on benefit payments, the loss of taxes and NI contributions, health care, family social services, police, courts, prison and probation. 

To date, it appears that the majority of charitable funding is directed towards those still serving. Once back in civilian life, ongoing funding and support is limited.  Importantly, there is a growing need to fund those voluntary sector organisations that are striving to help our veterans years after leaving the service, particularly those suffering mental illness.  With appropriate help, many veterans could once again become productive citizens.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Avoiding Prison - Helping Veterans with Mental Health Problems

If you think you know a veteran who is suffering with mental health issues, encourage them to seek help.  Failure to access support can lead to even greater troubles, including prison or worse!!

This short film may help - Don't Bottle It - Helping Veterans with Mental Health Issues 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Violent Veterans - Mental Health Impact

Mental illness of Veterans is not being appropriately recognised.  New research shows that one in ten soldiers returning from combat are displaying increased violent behaviour, both in the home and the community. Listen here -  . 

Over recent decades thousands of British troops have been deployed to conflict war zones.   With two years to go before front-line troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, the numbers will grow.  Research is now confirming that one in ten returning soldiers - are displaying increased levels of violence.  Others have committed suicide.  This situation is seen through increasing domestic abuse and violence in the wider community.  

Owing to a failure to recognise and address the symptoms, many are ending up in prison!  When will this change?  Alternatives to prison with increased levels of support are urgently required.