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Are Returning UK Soldiers Are Criminals?

This is a discussion on Are Returning UK Soldiers Are Criminals? within the Global Affairs forums, part of the Main Topics category; From Soldier to Crime MORE than TWENTY THOUSAND armed services veterans are serving sentences for criminal offences, The Sun can ...

  1. #1
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    Default Are Returning UK Soldiers Criminals?

    From Soldier to Crime


    MORE than TWENTY THOUSAND armed services veterans are serving sentences for criminal offences, The Sun can reveal.

    Shock figures show there are currently 12,000 vets on probation or parole and a further 8,500 in custody.

    That is TWICE as many as the number of British troops presently in Afghanistan.

    The damning statistics were compiled by a nationwide survey of probation officers who say many of the former military personnel were suffering from stress and depression from their service.

    Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation officers union Napo, said: "There is overwhelming evidence that there is not enough support for servicemen and women when they return to civilian life.

    "The levels of post traumatic stress disorder and depression are alarming.

    "If these men are brave enough to risk their lives for their country then surely they deserve proper care afterwards."

    The most common convictions were for domestic violence, with alcoholism and drug abuse featured in more than half the cases.



    Suffering


    No official figures are collated for the exact number of veterans in prison or on probation.

    However, the Napo study conducted this summer indicates at least six per cent of the 243,000 people under supervision in the community are ex-servicemen.

    A survey carried out in 2007 by the group Veterans In Prison concluded that nine per cent of the prison population have served in the forces.

    The new study of 62 probation offices in England and Wales highlights 90 case histories of servicemen sentenced to community penalties.

    Almost half were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression.

    Domestic violence accounted for 39 of the cases and other types of violence featured in a further 18.

    Ten of the 90 cases were for crimes against children, mostly sexual, two were for burglary, there was one robbery, a blackmail as well as five serious driving offences.

    The vets had served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

    Many of them suffered flashbacks to harrowing scenes of war they had witnessed, as well as nightmares, paranoia and an inability to concentrate.

    But most did not become aware of what their symptoms were until many years later.

    "Few reported receiving any counselling on exit from the armed services and soldiers were not routinely identified at the point of arrest or when court reports were written," says the Napo report.

    It adds: "Had forces experience been picked up... it is possible that the individuals could have been referred for help and counselling, which could have affected the sentencing outcome and also their own individual prognosis."

    The report goes on: "The predominance of use of substantial amounts of alcohol in offences occur suggests that the military services must address this issue as a matter of urgency."

    The report also calls for the MoD to set up help programmes for troops, particularly for domestic violence.

    "There is an urgent need for sufficient advice and support to be made available on discharge and a duty placed on criminal justice agencies to refer service personnel to help and counselling where appropriate," it adds.

    Napo chief Mr Fletcher said: "It is of grave concern that over 20,000 former military personnel are now in the criminal justice system. This cannot be acceptable.

    "All efforts must be made to reduce the number of military personnel who are in the criminal justice system though relevant support packages."

    Among cases highlighted in the Armed Forces and the Criminal Justice System report was a soldier from West Mercia with 24 years service who began drinking heavily after leaving the army and is now on a second sentence for domestic violence.

    The probation officer for the area also reported a 37-year-old FEMALE soldier who served in Iraq and became a chronic alcoholic before she was diagnosed with PTSD.

    In Avon and Somerset, a 28-year-old former Royal Pioneer who served in Afghanistan was convicted of dangerous driving and drink driving while suffering from severe PTSD which had not been diagnosed.

    A 45-year-old former sailor from South Yorks was convicted of two domestic violence offences after leaving the services. He suffered flashbacks from the Falklands War and tours of duty in Northern Ireland.

    A soldier from South Wales serving a community order for wife battering had drug and alcohol problems.

    And a 41-year-old Iraq hero suffering from PSTD was convicted of burglary in Surrey to feed his alcohol addiction.

    The Napo report concludes: "Until the government admits that it does have a real problem in terms with veterans in the criminal justice system, and the lack of support and referral, it is difficult to see how interested parties can embark on solutions."

    Tory Shadow Justice Secretary Dominic Grieve said of the report: "It is a disgrace that so many who have served their country are languishing in our prisons.

    "No-one is above the law, but this government has failed to provide proper support to our troops on return home.

    "The public will be shocked to find so many soldiers in jail, when the government has released thousands of criminals early because of lack of cells."

    Tracey Johnson, of Veterans In Prison, said: "Not enough is done to help former servicemen and women adjust to civilian life.

    "When you train someone to kill you have to put a mental switch on to enable them to do it. But the trouble is they are not switched off again when they arrive back in civvy street."

    Peter Poole, director of welfare for the Combat Stress charity, added: "Any veteran who finds themselves in trouble is someone who needs to be cared for."

    A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "We take our duty of care for all offenders very seriously, irrespective of background.

    "Our first priority is protecting the public and by providing offenders with support and information which will aid their resettlement in the community, we reduce the risk that they re-offend.

    "People entering the Criminal Justice System are from a range of backgrounds and present a variety of issues which have contributed to their offending behaviour.

    "Staff support individuals in addressing these issues, working towards their rehabilitation."



    Stricken former soldiers turn to crime | The Sun |News
    Last edited by Hajjaj; 6th October 2009 at 03:53 AM. Reason: oops

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Are Returning UK Soldiers Are Criminals?

    Chickens coming home to roost?

    Wonder what the stats are in the US

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Are Returning UK Soldiers Are Criminals?

    I thought these lot are supposed to be heroes and we are not allowed to criticize them.

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