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.
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
Ministry of Defence