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MP Jarvis on mission to help wayward ex-servicemen

By Lynsey Bradford, Town Reporter Sunday 12th January 2014
Dan Jarvis.

Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis is spearheading a campaign to get former members of the military who end up in courts of prisons back on the straight and narrow.


The MP and shadow justice minister, said not enough is done to help the 'small but significant' number ex-service men and women who end up in prison or on probation.


He said some people who formerly served in the navy, army and air force have particular needs resulting from their service, which can include post traumatic stress disorder and believes the criminal justice system should better care for these people.


“While the majority who leave the armed forces go on to lead successful professional careers, there are some who struggle to adapt to civilian life.


“When I’m out in Barnsley I do meet veterans who are struggling to adapt to life back home.


"Often they just need help and advice about housing and retraining. But sometimes these people have fallen off the straight and narrow and need help to get their lives back on track.


“It’s scandalous how many of those languishing in prison were previously in our armed services and I’m determined that Labour will lead efforts to end this."


He said Labour wanted to emulate the success of the Veterans' Courts in America in the UK, bringing together experts on mental health, housing, skills and training to support ex-servicemen and women in rebuilding their lives.


The party is tabling amendments to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill as it works its way through Parliament.


The first amendment calls on the government to consult over how to improve rehabilitation services for veterans who have been convicted of an offence.


The second calls on the Justice Secretary to establish a pilot scheme enabling courts to include a 'veterans’ rehabilitation requirement' in a community order.


This would ensure that consideration is taken of military experience for those who are convicted or plead guilty, and would ensure additional support is considered which could prevent re-offending.