August 31 2015 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A new partnership between Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner and military charities aimed at improving support for ex-service personnel in custody has been described as a “wonderful initiative” by a man whose brother, a troubled former soldier, died more than three years ago.
Stephen Bett, the county’s crime commissioner, has announced his office will host a co-ordinator responsible for leading the military charities’ approach to providing assistance to veterans in the criminal justice system.
Mr Bett and Tony Tomkinson, Armed Forces Commissioner and chairman of the Armed Forces Covenant, have brought together veteran support organisations to look at what help is currently available to ex-service personnel, and identify where more support is needed as part of the scheme.
Military charities Walking With The Wounded and the RFEA, the Forces Employment Charity, will help fund the initiative which will also look at how to aid rehabilitation and reduce veterans’ vulnerability to re-offending.
The scheme, which has been announced at a time when latest figures show veterans account for 3.5pc of the prison population in the county, has been heralded as a “wonderful idea” by the brother of former soldier David Phillips.
Mr Phillips, 54, of The Warren, Horsham St Faith, died from multiple injuries after being hit by a Peugeot 106 on Manor Road, close to his home, at about 7.25pm on January 22, 2011.
Mr Phillips, who served in Northern Ireland and had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was due to appear at Norwich Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced a few days after his death, having previously pleaded guilty to harassment – a charge relating to threats to kill his ex-partner.
His brother Mark, 53, who lives in West Sussex, said: “I think its a wonderful initiative. I really think they need to shout about it and shame other counties into following suit. I think it’s a wonderful idea, long overdue.
“I think the government has historically used the military for its own purposes and once they leave – whether they are discharged because they’re unwell or leave through their own choice or at the end of service – the government has to try to continue to provide support for them.”
Mr Phillips said his brother joined up at 16 and “had no knowledge of the outside world as we know it”. He left some 14 years later with illness brought about as a result of his time in the army and what he experienced.
He said help of any kind, but particularly of the sort being organised by Mr Bett, would have made a big difference.
Mr Bett said: “For many veterans, returning to civilian life can be a real challenge but, for some, the struggle to overcome those challenges can bring them into contact with the criminal justice system.
“Those coming out of the services have played an important role in protecting this country and other threatened communities around the world.
“They deserve the best support available to see them through any difficulties they have in adjusting back to a civilian life.”
What do you think? Email (giving your full contact details) EDPLetters@archant.co.uk