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Young Offenders and Vulnerable People: Rehabilitation

Volume 673: debated on Monday 16 March 2020

11. What recent assessment he has made of the role of the armed forces in helping to rehabilitate (a) young offenders and (b) other vulnerable young people. (901535)

The armed forces offer an exciting and fulfilling career, including to people from disadvantaged backgrounds and to young offenders who have completed their sentences. Outreach and engagement programmes include initiatives with young offender institutions to develop confidence and aspiration; the expansion of the combined cadet force, focusing on state schools; and enabling service personnel to volunteer with the Prince’s Trust to work with the most disadvantaged in our society.

The Army’s youth rehabilitation programme does good work in the Windsor constituency and across the country. Sadly, however, it is sometimes unable to help recently released offenders due to the lengthy rehabilitation periods imposed. It would be great to see many more young people who would benefit the most from military youth engagement take part, so may I ask the Minister gently whether he will look again at reviewing the current policy?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this excellent programme that the Army offers. While on licence, offenders remain subject to automatic custody recall for failing to meet licence conditions or committing any arrestable offence and therefore cannot be recruited, as I am sure he appreciates. However, he asks me about a fantastic thing. The Army, Navy and Air Force are brilliant vehicles for social mobility, and I am sure we would be keen to expand that programme in any way we can.