My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr Blunt) and I wish to make the following joint statement.
On 6 January 2010, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice—under the previous Administration—announced in a written ministerial statement, Official Report, columns 6-7WS, the findings of an initial study by the Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) which estimated that 3% of the prison population in England and Wales are ex-regular service personnel. DASA has since revised their estimate to 3.5% to take into account the incompleteness of their service leavers database which did not include reliable data for those who had left the services prior to 1979 (Navy), 1973 (Army) and 1969 (RAF).
DASA has also determined the demographic and service variables of veterans in prison. They are predominantly male (99.6%), British nationals (96.7%)), ex-Army (77%) other rank (92%), with 50% being aged 45 and over. Only 1% are recorded as officers and 7% had no rank status attached to their records. DASA calculated that for veterans in prison the time between discharge from the armed forces and the start of their current sentence ranged from 0 to 41 years. 41% began their current sentence 10 years after leaving the services, with only 6% having started their current sentence within a year of being discharged. However, DASA estimates that for males aged 18 to 54, the proportion of the ex-regular service personnel in prison was 30% less than the proportion of the general population in the same age group.
The DASA follow-on report on the demographic and service variables of veterans in prison is being placed in the Library of the House and published in full on their website:
DASA’s report provides a detailed statistical analysis of the demographic variables of veterans in prison. It does not explore why veterans come into contact with the criminal justice system. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defence will consider what further work might usefully be commissioned to understand the reasons behind this.