Needs Assessment: Veterans in Custody and their Families

Former members of the Armed Forces constitute one of the largest occupational groupings in prisons in the UK (Howard League for Penal Reform, 2011) with estimates of between 3.5% (DASA, 2010) and 6% (HMIP, 2014) of the prison population. The transition from military to civilian life can be a struggle for both the individual veteran and their families. Accessing employment, debt, housing, alcohol misuse, mental health and family relationships are frequently reported as challenges into the transition to civilian life and this complex landscape of issues may increase the risk of criminal activity.



Following the Farmer Review (MoJ, 2017), we know that maintaining positive family relationships is key to reducing re-offending and this research, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, aims to develop a robust evidence base of the family support needs in the specific case of veterans in custody and their families. We are considering the individual needs of the veteran offender, the partner (or co-parent) and children on the basis that as a whole family unit, these needs interact and impact on the wider family needs. This whole family approach will contribute towards improving outcomes for veterans involved in the criminal justice system and their families in the future.



We are currently undertaking a needs assessment using qualitative research methods with key stakeholders:

  • * veterans in custody within the male prison estate,
  • * male veteran ex-offenders in the community (released within the last 48 months)
  • * the partners/co-parents and children (18yrs and under) of male veteran offenders
  • * professionals from criminal justice, veteran and family support sectors.



Face-to-face interviews

Focus Groups

Telephone interviews

Anonymous online interviews for: Young People, Partners/Co-Parents, Professionals and Ex-offender Veterans



We hope that the needs assessment will achieve the following outcomes, so that the long term aims can be realised in the future:

  • * increased understanding of support available to male offender veterans and their families and where gaps currently lie
  • * increased understanding of the barriers to engagement and access to services for male offender veterans and their families and how to overcome them
  • * increased understanding of the needs of male offender veterans with children, focusing on, but not limited to, maintaining family relations
  • * increased understanding of the needs of children and families with veteran fathers in prison
  • * increased understanding of professionals’ awareness of the specific needs of male veteran offenders and their families



Please contact Leonie directly if you have any questions and would like to get involved!




Posters and information leaflets available below to advertise research in direct access services/directly to service users.

Stakeholder Information Sheet also available, a one page summary of research.

Our Partner

The Centre is delivered by Barnardo’s in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS).
NICOO Partners