The MOD and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) have completed the most comprehensive study to date of Armed Forces veterans in prison, they announced today.
The study, carried out by the Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) arm of the MOD, compared records on approximately 1.3m Service leavers with a database of all remand and sentenced prisoners in England and Wales aged 18 and over. It found that ex-Service personnel make up just under 3 percent of offenders in prison.
Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said:
“The vast majority of those who leave the Armed Forces make a successful transition to civilian life but we know that a small minority face difficulties. This study gives a full picture of how many veterans are in the prison population for the first time. This will help us to investigate where improvements can be made to help personnel settle back into society once they leave the Armed Forces to minimise their risk of falling into the criminal justice system. In doing this, we will work closely both within Government and with service charities.”
The Service leavers’ database holds records that date back to 1979 for the Navy, 1972 for the Army and 1968 for the RAF but does not include reservists. DASA estimate that, although not exhaustive, these statistics represent a realistic picture of the number of veterans in prison. Further work may lead to a slight increase in this estimate by taking into account the gaps in the data although the proportion of ex-Service offenders is not expected to exceed 4 percent.
The next stage in this project will be to evaluate the ex-Service prison population in terms of age, gender, Service branch, length of service, rank, deployment history, time since discharge, and offence type. This qualitative analysis will ensure that resources and support can be better targeted at those who need them.
Prisons Minister Maria Eagle said:
“We take our duty of care for all offenders very seriously, irrespective of background. We are committed to identifying and addressing the underlying reasons for offending amongst veterans serving prison sentences. By providing them with support and information which will aid their resettlement in the community, we also reduce the risk that they will re-offend.
This research will inform policy development between our two departments and will enable us to better support veterans who end up behind bars.”
We will share the findings of this study with the Howard League for Penal Reform and work closely with Sir John Nutting QC and his team to inform the independent inquiry into former Armed Forces personnel in prison which was launched in November.
Notes to Editors:
* The 3% figure compares with the Home Office survey of 2,000 nationally representative offenders at the point of release in 2001, 2003 and 2004, which reported the Armed Forces proportion to be 6%, 4% and 5% respectively.
* For more information please contact Hannah Fletcher in the MOD press office on 0207 218 7924
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department