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Research funded to understand why ex-Service personnel commit serious violent offences

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) has awarded the Probation Institute a grant of £80,404 for an 18-month project to research the factors influencing the behaviour of ex-Service personnel who commit serious violent offences and how such offences could be prevented in the future.

Researchers will develop case studies from approximately 12 interviews with ex-Service personnel who have committed serious offences of violence, their case workers and their families with the view of designing a learning source for practitioners working with serious offenders.

There are a number of evidence gaps the research will address which include: identifying the factors leading to the crime; gaining a better understanding of the factors influencing the individual’s choices and patterns of behaviour; and assessing the transition experience and years following.

The experiences of the families will be included to provide an holistic understanding of the needs, risks and protective factors and how families might be more effectively engaged to prevent serious offences occurring.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Our aim is to enable all ex-Service personnel and their families to have a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life. We do this through generating robust evidence to influence policy makers and service providers in the decisions they make about the community we represent.

“The Probation Institute has highlighted an evidence gap in relation to why ex-Service personnel have a higher conviction of serious violent offences to a person than the wider public. This latest research aims to identify factors that influence the individual and what preventative measures could be put in place to reduce the likelihood of this trend continuing.”

Helen Schofield, Acting Chief Executive, Probation Institute, said: “The Probation Institute is very pleased to be working again with the Forces In Mind Trust to support ex-Service personnel and in particular those who find themselves in personal difficulties which impact on the well-being of others.”


On-line mentoring platform for ex-Service personnel struggling with social isolation to be trialled

TimeBank, a national volunteering charity, has been awarded funds of £143,281 by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), to develop, pilot and evaluate an on-line mentoring platform for ex-Service personnel who have been affected by mental health and wellbeing problems in Scotland.

The 18-month project will be divided into two stages. The first six months will be a revision and refinement of training materials and a pilot of the online platform. In the second stage, 30 beneficiaries will be matched with an on-line volunteer mentor, with an average of six months’ support provided.

Mentoring will take place through an on-line video platform developed by Odro, a leader in video-based technology, which allows beneficiaries to have conversations with their mentors in real time as well as being able to exchange files and messages.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “FiMT previously funded TimeBank to deliver a face-to-face mentoring project in Glasgow and Edinburgh between 2014 and 2016, which resulted in the ‘Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine’ report. The report included a recommendation to make the mentoring service more widely available across Scotland, and this innovative application of modern communication technology is the result. The funding awarded today reflects that recommendation, and also the success of the mentoring scheme for ex-Service personnel in those two cities in Scotland.

“We look forward to the development of the on-line mentoring platform and the subsequent evaluation. The results of this 18-month project will influence how support can be better provided to ex-Service personnel and their family members dealing with mental health problems.”

Phil Pyatt, Chief Executive, TimeBank, said: “We are delighted to be working with FiMT once more to support Scottish veterans and their families, many of whom have complex problems including mental health issues. We will also be able to continue to show, through our partnership with leading veterans’ charity Erskine, that volunteer mentoring is a powerful tool to alleviate their stress and isolation and help them transition to sustainable, healthy and productive civilian lives. We are very excited to be able to reach out to many more veterans through this new online volunteering model.”

Research Consultancy, The Lines Between, will test the viability of the technology, and assess the impact online mentoring has made to the ex-Service personnel and their families struggling to maintain a successful transition to civilian life.

This new project draws on TimeBank’s extensive experience of delivering volunteer mentoring projects that support vulnerable people through difficult transitions in their lives.


Pioneering E-Learning Programme Rolled Out To Help Probation Staff Identify Ex-Service Personnel Under Supervision

Programme launches to help ex-Service personnel under supervision from reoffending by improving their identification and support pathways

The Probation Institute and Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), today launch ‘Working with Ex-Armed Services Personnel Under Supervision’, an e-learning programme that enables Probation Staff to better identify and support ex-Service personnel under supervision. The e-learning course and the teaching materials are available to all probation prison services and third sector organisations across England and Wales.

Previously, Probation Staff had no specialist training to enable them to identify ex-Service personnel, making them unable to gain access to tailored services, and therefore more likely to reoffend.

The Anglia Ruskin University National Audit of support for ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System found that 4-5% of the prison population is currently made up of ex-Service personnel. Those who have served in the Armed Forces are more likely to be in prison for the first time – 54% compared with 34% of the general population. However, less than half of ex-Service personnel under supervision are registered on probation case records as having served.

The Probation Institute’s e-learning programme tackles this by recommending that all service users are asked by Probation Staff if they have served in the Armed Forces and by highlighting to them how best to support the rehabilitation of this group.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The most effective way to identify someone who has served in the Armed Forces is to ask them directly. The Phillips report2 from 2014 states that ex-Service personnel in the prison system are a vulnerable group. And their Service history, which could have some bearing on their offending behaviour, is currently being overlooked by Probation Officers.

“Leaving the Armed Forces is successful for the majority; but for a small group, extra support is needed to navigate the transition pathway. Whether it be due to things they have encountered through time in service, or through the loss of the protective factors of Armed Forces life, a minority find themselves under probation supervision. We must ensure that this particularly vulnerable cohort are identified as having served and are signposted to the appropriate support services.”

Inga Markelyte, Learning and Development Consultant Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company said: “Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company has made use of the excellent e-learning resource available via the Probation Institute on working with ex-armed services personnel. This is a subject that expert knowledge and support is often required, and therefore having a refresher on what works best when working with veterans and also having a concise resources list detailing services available to veterans is extremely useful. The fact that the course is free of charge and is available to everyone (whether employed by Probation or not) is fantastic.

“The feedback we have had from practitioners was that the course was easy to follow; helpful to the practitioner role; the videos were really good; the resources list was particularly useful; clear information provided with well-worded questions; the subject was broken down into nice, easily digestible parts; the quality of the videos was impressive and the information contained was up to date and relevant to probation services; this was a good refresher about working with veterans.”

Helen Schofield, Chief Executive, Probation Institute, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this learning resource and grateful to FiMT who funded both the initial research on which the learning is based and the e-learning product. We are also grateful to the National Probation Service, Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, Sodexo, PACT, Ostling Training, Project Nova and Tom Harrison House in Merseyside, for the staff and services users both in the steering group and featuring in the e-learning programme.”

Glyn Owen, ex-Service person, said: “In my opinion the e-learning tool provides vital insight into the benefits of, firstly identifying veterans in the criminal justice system, and then hooking them up with support networks aimed specifically at ex-military personnel. I believe if veterans are signposted to the assistance available this would not only improve the quality of their lives and their family’s lives, but also considerably reduce the risk of re-offending.”

FiMT provided funds of £41,500 to enable the development of the e-learning programme.