A summary of evidence relating to ex-armed services personnel in prison and on probation and how services can improve outcomes for them.
This page aims to:
- present up to date research about what we know about the characteristics of ex-armed service personnel (ex-ASP) involved with the UK criminal justice system
- provide current estimates of the numbers of ex-ASP in the UK criminal justice system
- summarise approaches and interventions that can improve outcomes for ex-ASP in custody and under community supervision
- summarise the current national policy and practice background
What do we know?
Life in the armed forces is generally a positive experience and a protective factor. Ex-armed service personnel are less likely to commit crime than the general population.
There is only limited evidence about their needs and experiences in the criminal justice system. The available evidence tells us that:
- The vast majority of those leaving the armed forces in the UK transition successfully into civilian life 1. However, a small, but significant minority face challenges to their transition, for example, contact with the criminal justice system, mental health problems and alcohol misuse.
- Ex-ASP who come into contact with the criminal justice system differ from those who have not served in the armed forces. They have different health and wellbeing needs and offending behaviour patterns 2.
- Ex-ASP can experience stigmatising beliefs from learned military conduct and mutual reliance. These can hinder help-seeking behaviours 3,4.
- Government statistics estimate approximately 3.5% – 4% in custody and on community orders are ex-ASP. But external estimates have reported that the proportion of ex-ASP in the prison population range from 3.5% and 17% 5,6.
- Recently published experimental statistics Ex-service personnel in the prison population suggest that since January 2015, of the 50,983 prison receptions, an estimated 2,032 (4%) had indicated they had served in our armed forces. However, about 192 of these were foreign nationals who may be self-identifying having served with the UK forces, or another country.