Ravings From The Bog

PTSD Contributing To 8,500 Ex-Servicemen In British Jails

One major legacy of the Vietnam War was the trail of broken marriages, veteran related crime and general Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues experienced by society in the US at that time. Forty-odd years later, we shouldn’t be surprised that 1 in 11 prisoners in the UK is an ex-serviceman. Between Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, Iraq and Afghanistan, there are potentially plenty of PTSD sufferers out there who need help. As usual in this country, it comes down to money:

“The MoD said counselling was always available to personnel, troops had briefings before and after postings, there were six mental health therapy pilot schemes, and veterans could have free assessments.”

Counselling and assessments must be made mandatory rather than “available” to troops returning home after any conflict, when many of them are in no position to judge whether they need counselling or not.

Up to 8,500 former members of the armed forces are serving sentences in UK prisons, it has been claimed.

Probation staff union Napo said its figures suggested about one in every 11 prisoners used to be in the forces.

It has led the union and Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd to claim there is a lack of support for ex-service personnel.

The Ministry of Defence said it worked closely with charities to support veterans when they left the service and those who went to prison.

Both the MoD and the Ministry of Justice said they planned to carry out further surveys soon to “ensure we have up-to-date figures that will help us better target the help we provide for veterans in prison”.

Mr Llwyd said thousands of former members of the armed services who served either in the Gulf or Afghanistan had been subsequently convicted of offences and jailed.

He claimed that “effectively when armed personnel return, there is no help for them,” and said the position in the UK “contrasts greatly with the way the United States provide counselling and assistance to their armed personnel”.

“I have come to the conclusion that if proper treatment was available for these disturbed servicemen, hundreds if not thousands would not have offended,” said Mr Llwyd, the leader of Plaid Cymru’s parliamentary group.

“The government is letting them and their families down very badly indeed.”

Mr Llwyd said he had been unsatisfied with the initial response he was given when he raised the issue in Parliament after concerns were raised by his constituents in Meirionnydd Nant Conwy.

A criminal lawyer by trade, he saw ex-servicemen being sentenced in north Wales courts for assaults “with worrying regularity”.

He was told in a parliamentary answer that figures from “nationally representative surveys” of some 2,000 prisoners in 2001, 2003 and 2004 showed the proportion of former armed forces prisoners was 6%, 4% and 5% respectively.

The MP contacted Napo, which represents probation and family court staff, which then gathered evidence from 22 probation areas.

Napo said its initial findings and data from the group Veterans in Prison suggested that “as many as 8,500 former soldiers are currently in custody in the UK”. On 15 August, the prison population was 93,574.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said the number in prison could be greater than 8,500, and its studies suggest there could be more than 7,000 in England and Wales, and another 1,000 in Scotland.

Mr Fletcher said the “vast majority” of offences were violent and related to drugs or alcohol.

“There is no systematic availability of stress-related counselling. This should be made available without delay and would drastically reduce the number of receptions into custody”.

An MoD spokesperson said: “The MoD works closely with the service charities to support veterans when they leave the armed forces and for those who find themselves in prison.

“The Prison In-Reach initiative already provides advice on the support available to veterans before and after their release. Robust systems are in place to treat and prevent PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and other stress disorders.”

The MoD said counselling was always available to personnel, troops had briefings before and after postings, there were six mental health therapy pilot schemes, and veterans could have free assessments.

The Ministry of Justice said prisoners were given support in addressing the issues which led to their behaviour.


3 Comments so far
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I’d be even concerned about soldiers currently serving in the Army.I heard of a soldier recently returned to Belfast just back from Afghanistan where the police had to be called out because of his behaviour. Sadly I expect there’ll be lots of films based on some of these soldiers lives and their PTSD.

Comment by d@\/e

Gabatrol is a healthy, all natural product that can alleviate your feelings associated with PTSD

Military discount: http://ptsd.gabatrol.com

Comment by Robert

Lash & Associates Publishing has a lot of good books and free information on PTSD and Blast Injury

Comment by Bob Cluett

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