Monday, 11 November 2013

Cheshire Police will help veterans who may turn to crime

CHESHIRE’S police and crime commissioner has been turning his attention to the needs of the small number of ex-military personnel who break the law. 
John Dwyer said: “Today we honour the servicemen and women who have given life and sometimes limb to serve our country but we tend to think of the older generation who served in the World Wars.
“We are now seeing a much younger population of ‘veterans’ in their twenties and thirties who have experienced combat and seen things we dare not think about.
“Some of these brave men and women we sadly find entering the criminal justice system and it is important that all public service providers are set up to identify their needs and signpost them to appropriate support services. Some military personnel struggle with the transition to civvy street and may turn to alcohol or drugs.
“There is evidence that suggests that they are more likely to commit violent offences or domestic abuse. Homelessness and debt management may also become a problem for some.”
Working in partnership with Tascor, Cheshire Police now ask all detainees in police custody whether they are ‘veterans’ as part of a health assessment.
Dr Vis Reddy of Tascor said: “I am delighted we are now able to identify veterans in custody as part of a standard screening process. The work being done in Cheshire is a big step towards offering them the right support at an early stage.”
Alan Lilly, of ‘Live at Ease’ which has been commissioned by the NHS to connect ex-service personnel and veterans to the right kind of help, has been training police officers based at custody suites across Cheshire.
He said: “We are not implying that all ex-military will go on to offend but it is important their needs are identified early so they can be put in touch with the right support networks such as the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress or SSAFA for example. In just 10 days Live at Ease received five referrals from the Runcorn custody suite alone which helped veterans receive the help they need, in particular those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.”
Mr Dwyer added, “Cheshire Constabulary, clinical commissioning groups, local authorities, Tascor and probation services among others have all signed the ‘Armed Forces Community Covenant’ which seeks to encourage public service organisations to support the service community in their area and promote understanding and awareness among the public of issues affecting the armed forces community.
“I encourage all police officers to consider the needs of ex-military personnel not just on Armistice day but every day.”