Today, Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) is launching its Policy Statement on the Criminal Justice System which provides evidence to support its policy recommendations for ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System and their families.
The Policy Statement highlights that the majority of ex-Service personnel make a successful transition to civilian life and avoid any adverse contact with the Criminal Justice System. However, a minority will go on to offend after leaving the Armed Forces, often as a result of health, behavioural and social problems. The Statement sets out the risk factors identified for offending by ex-Service personnel and makes recommendations for the support to which they and their families should have access. These are based on research evidence funded and published by FiMT as part of its ongoing Criminal Justice System Programme.
The Policy Statement identifies factors linked to offending from pre-service, during service and the transition process out of the Armed Forces. It sets out the typical profile of ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System, who are more likely to be male, white, and older; are more likely to be recorded as having experienced mental health issues or harmful drinking; and are more likely to report anxieties over identity, stigma and loss of a sense of belonging than those who have not served in the Armed Forces.
Key recommendations set out in the Policy Statement include:
- Better understanding and assessment of the needs of ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System, as well as the needs of their families.
- Mandatory Armed Forces awareness training for staff throughout the Criminal Justice System.
- A strategic, national, and cross-sector approach to ensure that the needs of ex-Service personnel are met, and appropriate referrals can be made so that no individual ‘slips through the net’.
- Formal support for families of ex-Service personnel in the Criminal Justice System.
- Improved identification of ex-Service personnel by the Ministry of Justice, particularly in Northern Ireland where no data currently exists.
- More evaluation of services that exist to support ex-Service personnel and their families in the Criminal Justice System.
Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of FiMT, said: “Most ex-Service personnel transition into civilian life successfully, their lives enriched by their service. However, from the research we have funded on the needs of ex-Service personnel and their families in the Criminal Justice System, we are able to understand more about those who do go on to offend, and the factors which may play a role.
“Based on this research, we have set out the recommended changes that are needed to ensure that we can identify those at risk of offending and prevent them from coming into adverse contact with the Criminal Justice System, and effectively support those that do, as well as their families. These changes will require the investment and effort of central and devolved Government as well as further, mandatory, training for staff within the System.”