A report on the provision of services to ex-Armed Services personnel under the supervision of Probation Services in England and Wales has been launched by the Probation Institute, the Forces in Mind Trust and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.
The report looks into the reasons for ex-service personnel ending up in the criminal justice system, examining the support provided to them and how that support could be improved; it was produced by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies for the Probation Institute and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.
The report identifies a number of challenges to assessing the needs and numbers of Veterans who, although statistically a small group, not uncommonly experience post-traumatic stress disorders and mental health difficulties, and many need specialist help. One key barrier to identifying the need for specialist support, the report identifies, is that ex-Armed Services personnel who find themselves in trouble with the law are often reluctant to disclose their services background.
The launch in London brings together armed services organisations and criminal justice organisations to develop ways of strengthening and enhancing provision for offenders with armed services backgrounds on release from prison or placed on Community Sentences. Major changes to the structure and governance of probation services in England and Wales have taken place in parallel with the Phillips Review and this report.
Following an introduction to the report, attendees then engaged in break-out sessions enabling more detailed discussion of three potential areas for further work by the Probation Institute with partners, to explore what steps might strengthen practice and provision of support for those within the justice system.
Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “We know that, although most ex-Service personnel successfully transition into civilian life, sadly, some will end up in the criminal justice system for a variety of reasons. This report provides an essential insight into veterans’ needs, the support systems already in place, and the ways in which support can be improved. This chimes with the Armed Forces Covenant principle of ensuring no disadvantage due to military service. The findings will be of particular interest to those service deliverers already responsible for providing support, who will consequently be able to better plan and provide for those veterans who find themselves in contact with the criminal justice system.”
Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive of the Probation Institute, welcomed the high level of support from organisations who will be attending the launch as an active demonstration of concern for one of the many vulnerable groups who come before the courts. “We see this as a huge opportunity to help probation services and providers to build on important partnerships, sharing good practice, training and enabling better understanding of the issues facing ex armed services personnel”.
Dr Roger Grimshaw, Research Director, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: “Our work on this report highlights the underlying needs of veterans who enter the criminal justice system and maps how much more could be done to assess and provide for such needs in a coordinated manner.”
Image: copyright Forces in Mind Trust