As part of Labour’s determination to tackle re-offending rates and support those whose bravery and sacrifices have defended our country, we are calling on the Government to look at establishing Veterans’ Treatment Courts (VTC). These would be based on those that are making a difference across America.
Our criminal justice system contains a small but significant number of ex-service men and women in prison and on probation who deserve increased support and care, yet the current Government have done little to address their needs.
The unique nature of military service means this is a group of individuals with special characteristics and particular needs, for example Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which Labour believes should be catered for in the criminal justice system. VTCs would take military experience in to consideration for those who are convicted or plead guilty to explore whether additional support is required which could help prevent re-offending.
This is an important part of Labour’s efforts to support and strengthen the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant and ensure that no-one is disadvantaged as a result of military service.
Labour is tabling an amendment to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill as it works its way through Parliament to bring about a pilot VTC.
Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“In too many cases, those leaving the military struggle to adapt to civilian life, made worse for those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and with mental health problems. For some, this struggle can lead to them ending up in the criminal justice system.
“We need to do all we can to help them get back on the straight and narrow. Too many people in our prisons were previously in the services, and I am determined that the next Labour Government will do what it can to end this scandal.
“That’s why Labour is seeing whether we can emulate the success of Veterans’ Courts in the US here in the UK. Bringing together experts on mental health, housing, skills and training and the like we can build a system that supports ex servicemen and women in rebuilding their lives and making sure there’s a clear path out of crime.”
Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, said:
“The unique nature of military service should be matched with unique provision. Our heroes deserve the highest levels of care and support.
“It is right that the tiny minority of veterans who commit minor crimes have their backgrounds taken in to account and efforts are made to ensure they do not reoffend.
“Upholding the Armed Forces Covenant is about ensuring no-one suffers unfair disadvantage as a result of military service, which is why this is so important.”