A mental health project to better identify and help ex-servicemen who have got drawn into a cycle of criminal behaviour is to be extended to three more London prisons after a successful trial in HMP Wandsworth.
Under the NHS initiative, ex-servicemen who are in prison on remand or after sentencing and potentially at risk from mental health issues can be more effectively identified and managed by a clinical nurse specialist, in collaboration with veteran custody support officers.
They can then draw on a network of support to help the ex-servicemen both within the prison and “through the gate” into the community, such as mental health and substance misuse services, housing and welfare organisations.
The project, run by the London Veterans’ Service (LVS), is targeted at reducing re-offending by ex-servicemen who get hooked into a pattern of criminal behaviour, often involving violence.
Estimates of the proportion of veterans in custody range from 3.5% to 17% - between 3,000 and 14,000 prisoners.
The initial project run by LVS, a collaboration between Camden and Islington (C&I) and South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS foundation trusts, was at Wandsworth prison and is now being extended to Brixton and Thameside prisons and Isis young offenders’ institution.
Dr Sue Ferrier, Lead Clinical Psychologist for the prison In-Reach project and co-ordinator of the LVS, said:”Many of the characteristics of ex-servicemen offenders are similar to those in the civilian population.
“However, their experiences in the military and in the battlefield and associated mental health and substance misuse problems have been shown to increase their risk of offending, and in particular violent offending.
“The impact of leaving the armed forces and starting in the civilian world and issues of stigma and barriers to seeking help, further contribute to ex-servicemen ending up in the criminal justice system.”
The LVS Prison In-Reach project at HMP Wandsworth, which was funded by NHS England, has now been awarded funding by the Armed Forces Covenant to extend to the three other prisons.
The Wandsworth project started in July 2015 and its “in-reach” approach involves the provision of individual, co-ordinated multi-agency care packages for each veteran and incorporates the needs of their families where possible.
The project has shown higher rates of identification and specialist assessment leading to improved clinical and welfare outcomes, and a higher proportion of veterans being linked to external services.
The link between military personnel’s operational experience, associated mental health and alcohol problems and increased potential for offending, particularly involving violence, has been established in research by Dr Deirdre MacManus, Consultant Psychiatrist at the London Veterans’ Service and Senior Lecturer at King’s College London.
This research has been key in raising government awareness of the need for mental health support for ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system.
The extension of the Prison In-Reach project will be formally launched today(17 October) at C&I’s main site at St Pancras Hospital, north west London, where the LVS is based.
Amongst speakers at the event will be Dr Jon Bashford, senior researcher and author of a report, From Gate to Gate, that made a series of recommendations to improve planning and procedures for helping veterans with mental health problems who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust
Telephone +44 (0)20 3317 6291
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Notes to Editors
About Camden and Islington NHS Trust
We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston.
We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.
We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.
Our income for 2015/16 was £138million and we have approximately 1,700 staff. Our staff work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector. Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was established in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by NHS Improvement.
For more information visit www.candi.nhs.uk
About the London Veterans’ Service
The London Veterans Service (LVS) is a free NHS mental health service for all ex-serving members of the UK Armed Forces living in or who are registered with a GP in London. The service is provided by by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM).
If you are a veteran you can refer yourself directly to our service.
If you wish to contact the team, we are based at:
London Veterans’ Service St Pancras Hospital
4th Floor, West Wing
4 St Pancras Way
Telephone: 020 3317 6818 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Armed Forces Covenant
The Covenant Grant Fund makes grants to support the armed forces community. The Armed Forces Covenant is a pledge by the nation that together we acknowledge and understand that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, should be treated with fairness and respect in the communities, economy and society they serve with their lives. For more information please see https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/
 Treadwell J. Counterblast: More than Casualties of War?: Ex-military Personnel in the Criminal Justice System. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. 2010;49:73-77.
 MacManus D, et al. Violent offending by UK military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan: a data linkage cohort study. The Lancet. 2013;381:907-917.
 Phillips S. Former members of the armed forces and the criminal justice system: a review on behalf of the Secretary of State for Justice. Ministry of Justice; 2014.