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Extra rehabilitation support announced for armed service veterans

Review finds no evidence that they are worse effected but coalition says targeted measures will nevertheless be used

The government has pledged better support for former members of the armed services within the criminal justice system, in order to help their rehabilitation.

Following a review of the treatment of veterans within the criminal justice system - which actually found that veterans are less likely to be convicted of crimes - measures including early interventions and tailored support will nevertheless be introduced.

Every prisoner coming into custody will be asked if they have been a member of the armed forces, and prisons will receive new guidance about helping them during their sentence.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling (pictured) said: "Most ex-service personnel have successful civilian lives and do not enter the criminal justice system - but I am determined to help the minority who have committed an offence turn their lives around.

"Society owes a huge debt of gratitude to those who have served their country, which is why our commitment to support them and their families is enshrined in the Armed Forces Covenant.

"We will identify veterans at the earliest opportunity, so that we can take a more tailored approach to help them turn away from crime. This support will extend to offenders’ families, who also feel the sacrifices made by our service men and women."

The review, carried out by Stephen Phillips QC found that veterans are less likely to enter the criminal justice system than their civilian counterparts but that more needs to be done to gauge an accurate figure of how many are being sentenced and jailed.

Mr Phillips said: "We were reassured to find that if you have served in the armed forces, you are actually less likely to find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

"But we cannot lose sight of the needs of the minority of veterans who do end up in the criminal justice system.

"That’s why it is vital for them, their families, and our communities that more is done to look at who they are and how we can best support them."

The government’s ‘Liaison and diversion’ programme has been working since April 2014 to identify veterans in police custody and courts. Where appropriate, they can then be referred to armed forces specific services – usually charities.