This article explores the factors and experiences associated with ex-Armed Forces personnel in prison.
Little is known about why some ex-armed forces personnel become involved in the criminal justice system, however, they represent the largest known occupational group in prison. In-depth interviews were employed to explore possible pathways to offending. Twenty ex-armed forces personnel in prison were recruited from five prisons in England. Data were analysed using a combination of thematic analysis and constant comparison methods rooted in grounded theory. Four predominant themes were identified: experiences of trauma and adversity; belonging; impulsivity and creating a soldier. Participants had experienced a number of traumatic incidents and adversity in their lives, encompassing pre, during and post-service but felt a sense of belonging in the armed forces. Participants demonstrated impulsivity in a number of areas with links to both their service in the armed forces and offending behaviour. The creation of the identity of ‘soldier’ was perceived to impact participants’ lives in a number of ways, including their offending, alcohol use and coping with trauma. The interplay of these themes and their potential impact on participants’ pathways to offending are discussed.
Wainwright, V., McDonnell, S., Lennox, C., Shaw, J. and Senior, J., 2016. Soldier, civilian, criminal: identifying pathways to offending of ex-armed forces personnel in prison. Psychology, Crime & Law, 22(8), pp. 741-757.