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Summary

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Research Questions

  1. What are the needs of ex-Service personnel, what are their complexities, and are the projects aligned with these needs?
  2. How do the projects support the beneficiaries (i.e. ex-Service personnel who have come into contact with the CJS)?
  3. To what extent do beneficiaries perceive that they have been supported to reduce offending behaviour and make positive life choices?
  4. To what extent do professionals perceive that (i) beneficiaries have been supported to reduce offending behaviour and make positive life choices, and (ii) where applicable, the support professionals have been offered helps beneficiaries reduce offending behaviour and make positive life choices?
  5. To what extent do carers and family members perceive that (i) beneficiaries have been supported to reduce offending behaviour and make positive life choices, and (ii) where applicable, the support carers and family members have been offered helps beneficiaries reduce offending behaviour and make positive life choices?
  6. How likely are projects awarded a continuation and sustainability grant to be sustainable?
  7. What are the risks and barriers to the future sustainability of the projects?
  8. How have the projects used data to inform and show the impact of their work?
  9. What is (i) the number, and (ii) the complexity of wider referral pathways with which funded projects engage to support beneficiaries?
  10. What lessons and areas of good practice from the Programme with relevance for wider public policy can be identified from the answers to EQ1–9?
  11. What lessons and areas of good practice from the Programme with applicability for other relevant services and projects can be identified from the answers to EQ1–9?

Most ex-Service personnel transition effectively into civilian life, but some face challenges—including poor mental and/or physical health, unemployment, financial hardship and homelessness—that hinder a successful transition. This can lead to some individuals committing crimes and finding themselves within the criminal justice system (CJS).

The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust provides grants across a number of different programmes, including the Ex-Service Personnel in the CJS Programme. The aim of the Programme is to reduce reoffending and provide support to ex-Service personnel who have come into contact with the CJS. Through this Programme, the Trust awarded £4.6 million in 2015 to 14 projects, followed by a further £1.1 million of continuation grants in 2018 to seven of the 14 projects. The projects and services funded under the Programme are dedicated to helping identify and support ex-Service personnel throughout the various stages of the CJS, including custody, pre-sentencing, the point of sentence and post-release from custody.

RAND Europe was commissioned to evaluate this Programme, to help the Trust understand how the projects have met the aims of the Programme and what lessons and areas of good practices from the Programme could be identified with applicability for other relevant services and projects and with relevance for wider public policy. The evaluation was guided by 11 evaluation questions (EQs), nine of which focus on the individual projects, and two of which are programme-level questions.

Key Findings

  • Based on the evidence gathered, the projects do help to address the known needs of ex-Service personnel in the CJS by providing wide-ranging support, aiming both to address immediate needs and to enact systemwide changes within the CJS.
  • Challenges faced by projects include difficulties in identifying ex-Service personnel within the CJS, and hence being aware of the full extent of their needs and challenges specific to the custodial set-up, the main issue being that the specific needs of ex-Service personnel are not considered as part of core organisational resource allocations.
  • Projects that focus on enacting system-wide changes within the CJS are the most promising in terms of impact sustainability, as they are less dependent on funding in the long-term. By contrast, projects that provide immediate, on-the-ground support (be it financial, material, job-related or social in nature) will continue to be dependent on the renewal of funding.
  • Funding needs to be awarded on a longer term basis in order to ensure that the projects can create a positive impact, especially when it comes to addressing recurring on-the-ground needs.
  • Encouraging ex-Service personnel to work with those in the CJS has been shown to help increase the engagement of this cohort with the support that is available.
  • The projects and beneficiaries highlighted the importance of providing increasingly holistic support that includes the family as well as the ex-Service personnel. This fact has become more apparent to the projects themselves over their funding period.

Recommendations

  • Improve the identification of ex-Service personnel within the CJS.
  • Conduct further research on ex-Service personnel in the CJS, to reduce the gap in knowledge around this cohort and their needs.
  • Expand the Veterans in Custody Support Officer (ViCSO) role by making it permanent as well as ensuring that there is a ViCSO equivalent in police forces, courts and tribunals.
  • Encourage CJS agencies to be signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant.
  • Increase communication among projects and organisations that provide support to ex-Service personnel in the CJS.
  • Provide more flexible funding options, including longer term funding, to enhance sustainability of projects.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Ex-Service personnel within the criminal justice system

  • Chapter Three

    Overview of the Ex-Service Personnel in the CJS Programme

  • Chapter Four

    Evaluation findings

  • Chapter Five

    Way ahead and advocacy areas

  • Appendix A

    Research methods

  • Appendix B

    Project-level logic models

  • Appendix C

    Project questionnaires

  • Appendix D

    List of interviewees

  • Appendix E

    Interview protocols

Research conducted by

This research was prepared for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.