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Ex-armed Services Personnel and the Criminal Justice System

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 17 December 2015

I am today publishing an update on the progress that has been made in addressing the rehabilitation needs of ex-armed services personnel in the criminal justice system (CJS), as agreed by the Ministry of Justice in the Government response to the independent review into former service personnel in the CJS by Stephen Phillips QC MP, published in December 2014.

I reiterate my belief that we have an obligation to ensure those who serve in the armed forces are not disadvantaged as a result of their service. We are clear that all offenders, including those with a military history, should have the support they need to turn their lives around and stop offending.

The key to providing better services to ex-service personnel who find themselves in the CJS is to make sure that we identify them. I am pleased to see that the early data collected by the liaison and diversion services programme and the basic custody screening tool at prison reception, show that the number of ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system continues to remain small.

We are also working to consolidate our understanding of the needs of this group of offenders. We published two pieces of analyses last year, which found that, in general, the needs of ex-service personnel are broadly similar to those of other offenders, although specific areas of need may be more prevalent. For example, ex-service personnel had similar levels of reported general mental health problems to other prisoners, but may have greater levels of need in depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A fully rolled-out liaison and diversion service will provide a real opportunity to meet the mental health needs, as well as other vulnerabilities, of ex-service personnel, and we will continue to drive this.

I am pleased that the covenant reference group identified support to ex-service personnel in the CJS as one of the funding priorities for the £10 million armed forces covenant fund 2015-16. The Government have also awarded £1 million to Care after Combat and £1.6 million to Skillforce to support their work with ex-service personnel in prisons and police custody.

The full update can be found at: and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.