Crawley MP backs scheme to help jailed veterans reintegrate into society

Crawley MP Henry Smith is backing a scheme to help veterans who have been in prison reintegrate into society.

As part of a series of remembrance events, he has attended a parliamentary session with Care after Combat to learn about its mentoring services.

Henry Smith MP

Henry Smith MP

The charity said it is only currently able to reach one in 10 prisoner veterans and increased funding is needed to roll out its services UK-wide.

It is estimated that there are currently 3,500 former servicemen incarcerated in England and Wales.

According to Care after Combat this represents the largest single occupation within prisons – and one of the most vulnerable groups.

Mr Smith said: “The Armed Forces Covenant is an agreement between our country and those who put their lives on the line to defend it, and we have a responsibility to look after the welfare of all our veterans, especially as they leave the Armed Forces and make the massive and often daunting challenge of transitioning to civilian life.

“Care after Combat provides dedicated support for those least able to make this transition and who often fall into the prison system as a result. We must do everything we can to end this vicious cycle and I’m pleased to pledge my support.”

Care after Combat, which was co-founded by comedian Jim Davidson in 2015, mentors veterans serving the final 18 months of their sentence to help them make the successful transition from prison life into the civilian population.

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Over the past three years it has helped more than 300 veterans in almost 30 prisons, helping to reduce first year reoffending rates amongst service users to only 8 per cent. This is compared to the 45 per cent first year reoffending rate amongst the wider prisoner population.

Jim Davidson, chief executive officer of Care after Combat, said: “I was really pleased to come to Parliament and receive so much support and encouragement from MPs. At a time when our prison service is struggling to cope, Care after Combat could play a greater role to reduce reoffending and help former veterans by restoring the sense of stability and purpose which they enjoyed whilst serving in the Armed Forces.

“While we welcome the additional £10 million cash injection to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund to support mental health projects, we call on Government to recognise the specific requirements of this group and increase funding for veteran prisoner community transition services.”