Military Veteran-offenders: Making sense of developments in the debate to inform service delivery


This report provides a brief overview of the key developments in the debate about veterans in the Criminal Justice System.


In a 2008 report by the National Association for Probation Officers3 it was estimated that in excess of 20,000 ex-service personnel were serving a sentence in either prison or the community in England and Wales. Since this report, we have witnessed a steady growth in research, literature and knowledge exchange seeking to make sense of veterans’ offending and the veteran-offender.4 Here, we provide a brief overview of the key development of this debate since the recognition of the ‘problem’ of ex-military personnel in prison nearly ten years ago. This discussion problematizes the narrow focus on veterans' engagement with criminal justice and suggests that the quality of transition from military to civilian life is in fact contingent on a more complex interplay of social, cultural and economic participation-linked factors. We propose that by considering the complexities of transition, veterans’ offending is more appropriately positioned amongst wider structural challenges faced on return to civilian society. This approach informs the limited recent empirical work in this area, which has been slow to filter into mainstream criminal justice practice. It is our contention that veterans’ contact with the criminal justice system needs to be understood within the broader explanatory frameworks of diversity and social inclusion. We make specific recommendations, based on new developments in the veteran-offender debate, to inform service delivery to this cohort in the criminal justice system.

Full Reference

ALBERTSON, Katherine, BANKS, James and MURRAY, Emma (2017). Military Veteran-offenders: Making sense of developments in the debate to inform service delivery. Prison Service Journal, 234, 23-30.