A UK-wide map of support services for veterans in the criminal justice system (CJS) has been published following research by Anglia Ruskin University…

Anglia Ruskin’s Veterans and Families Institute for Military Social Research conducted a national audit of support for veterans in the criminal justice system, following the Phillips Review in 2014 which made clear the need to address shortfalls in provision of support and co-ordination of support for military veterans across the entire justice system.

Research found inconsistent levels of support across the country. For example, 88% of police custody suites in Wales have a veterans’ police champion – but in England the figure is 28% and in London none were identified. However, all but three prisons in the UK had veteran-specific service provision – and those that did not had no veterans in custody.

Military veterans in the criminal justice system are a particularly vulnerable group who may have substance misuse and mental health issues. They often have very complex resettlement needs and the research suggests that their offending is linked to these issues.

Users of the map can search via their postcode or zoom in and out of the map to find nearby support services, such as charities, liaison services, and signposting organisations. Contact information such as telephone numbers and websites are also listed. The map also displays the location of courts, prisons and police stations and custody suites.

As well as providing clear signposting for those veterans in the criminal justice system and their families, it will also allow service providers to identify locations where there may be a lack of support or even duplication of services.

The most recent statistics available show that around 3.5% of the prison population, and 3.4% of people on probation, are military veterans.

Dr Linda Cooper, Research Fellow in the VFI, said: “The Phillips Review acknowledged that former Armed Forces personnel are less likely to find themselves in custody than the regular population. However, where to find support for the very specific needs that veterans in the CJS require have so far not been captured in one particular document.

“We found issues with a lack of detail on service providers’ websites and some areas where there is very little support specific to military veterans. It is vitally important that this map is used by providers to ensure a more joined-up approach to make sure resources are used efficiently and that any ‘blackspots’ are identified and prioritised.”

The map is a partnership project between HM Prison and Probation Service, Royal British Legion Industries and Anglia Ruskin. It can be viewed at https://mod.co-financing.org