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Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2020

The hon. Member raises an important question. We recognise the unique nature of military service, which is why we committed in our manifesto to offering veterans a guaranteed job interview for any public sector role for which they apply. The MOJ continues to work in partnership with military charities to improve the prospects for ex-armed service personnel in the criminal justice system.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response. She will know that a recent Barnardo’s study, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, shows that veterans in custody and their families often do not receive the support they need. Does she agree that more effective identification of service leavers is needed, along with dedicated veterans support officers?

Yes, I do. There is support available through the tremendous amount of work that charities do in this sector, but people cannot access that support if we do not identify them as veterans in the first place. We have changed our systems during the screening process to actively ask those entering custody about previous service in the armed forces. That is recorded on the basic custody screening tool but, of course, the more we record, the more we can do.