Kent Police is working with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity to identify serving personnel, veterans and their families in custody…

Individuals can then refer themselves to the charity or a Kent Police officer or staff member can make the referral on their behalf.

They will then be able to gain access to practical, emotional and financial advice through SSAFA, which it is hoped will lessen their chances of coming into contact with the police again in the future.

This service is extended to anyone who is currently serving in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army or the Royal Air Force (regulars and reserves) and their families.

SSAFA offers welfare advice and provides a range of personalised services, including housing and healthcare advice, prison in-reach and mentoring in addition to signposting to organisations that offer more specialised support.

Kent Police’s Chief Inspector Tim Cook said: “The vast majority of those who serve in the Armed Forces return to civilian life in Kent without a problem but we are aware this isn’t always the case.

“We want to ensure that we are able to direct service personnel and their families who are experiencing difficulties to the appropriate services to ensure they get the support they need.

“By working with SSAFA we are providing access to a wide range of specialist advice and emotional support for the military community should they need it.”

Simon Sanderson, Chairman of SSAFA Kent, said: “Our partnership with Kent Police ensures we are able to provide support to more veterans and their families who find themselves in the criminal justice system.

“SSAFA is extremely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund for providing a grant to support this project, which looks to help with the rehabilitation of veterans and in turn lower reoffending rates.

“Looking to the future, we are hoping to extend our services to veterans from police custody all the way through to probation thanks to our collaborative work with the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies and Kent Police.”

The scheme has the support of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, who met with representatives from SSAFA last year.

He said: “I am committed to supporting schemes which make people safer and reduce reoffending, so when I met with SSAFA last year and heard about the efforts to renew the Veterans in the Criminal Justice System project I was keen for Kent to become more involved.

“Signposting those small number of ex-services personnel who come into contact with the Criminal Justice System to the support that is available to them from SSAFA will hopefully prevent them from being of interest to police again.”