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Offenders: Ex-servicemen

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) the veterans in custody support programme at HM Prison Everthorpe and (b) extending the programme across the custodial estate; and whether he has had discussions with (i) the Ministry of Defence, (ii) the Department of Health, (iii) HM Prison Service and (iv) the National Offender Management Service on the (A) funding and (B) timetable for an extension of the programme; and if he will make a statement. (258181)

To date, no formal estimate has been made of the cost of the HM Prison Everthorpe veterans in custody support programme. However, we are aware that a prison officer in the establishment devotes about one day a week to attend to referrals and a further three hours a month to facilitate a veterans’ forum. It will not be possible to estimate the cost of a national roll-out of this programme, until we have some reliable research to better determine the numbers of veterans offending. We anticipate that this information will be available to us by September 2009.

Prison In-Reach, a cross departmental non-executive working group, led by the Ministry of Defence, brings together representation from The National Offender Management Service and public sector prisons in addition to third sector partners. This provides an excellent opportunity for collaborative working and the pooling of resources. The Department of Health is a key partner of both the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice in the provision of health care services to veterans and the general offender population. Once the research is available, it may be possible to discuss the delivery of specific interventions to meet the needs of veterans.

The group is currently preparing a guidance pack for prison officers, working with veterans. This will provide a useful resource for prisons wishing to develop a service similar to that delivered at Everthorpe. We anticipate that this will be ready for distribution and introduction during the second quarter of this year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what mechanisms are in place to ensure that account is taken of the needs of offenders who are former members of the armed forces in the preparation of (a) an assessment outcome and (b) a resettlement plan by the (i) offender supervisor and (ii) offender manager; and if he will make a statement. (258184)

The Offender Assessment System (OASys) is the mechanism by which the risks posed by an offender and the needs associated with offending behaviour are assessed. There is no separate system for assessing the needs of serving or former members of the armed forces but OASys has a broad scope and includes the assessment of the offender's accommodation, financial management and emotional well-being, for example. It provides the opportunity to record relevant matters relating to an offender's military history.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he is taking to assist offender managers in identifying offenders who have served in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (258187)

The Offender Assessment System (OASys) prompts an offender manager to review an offender's employment history and work related skills. Offenders are also encouraged to use a self-assessment questionnaire to highlight information that is important to them and is relevant to their offending behaviour.