Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Wilkinson, joined members of his team to meet with the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and discuss ways of improving support for ex-servicemen and women and to better coordinate the support currently available.
The team were invited to the meeting on August 17 by Veterans' Affairs Minister Johnny Mercer following a recent networking event which was held in Tidworth.
The event, which was hosted by the OPCC at the Garrison Theatre, brought together over a hundred criminal justice partners and local military units to discuss how they can collectively work more effectively together to support serving military personnel and veterans/ex-military in the criminal justice system in Wiltshire.
With around 12% of the population in Wiltshire either currently serving in the armed forces or part of the veterans/ex-military community, the event forged pathways and relationships between services with provisions to improve support and reduce re/offending.
Stakeholders including alcohol and substance misuse services, domestic abuse services, the Forces Employment Charity, Op Courage, and people with lived experience gave presentations, whilst agencies, organisations and commissioned services with a focus on military engagement set up stalls in the Garrison Theatre.
Police and Crime Commissioner Philp Wilkinson said:
“One of the priorities in my Police and Crime plan is to provide a service that meets the needs of the community, and too often this community has not received the support it deserves.
“I share the aims of the Minister to strive to forge a path towards ensuring that everyone who needs help knows where to turn and is met by good-quality care that will improve their lives.
“These discussions are the beginning of the road and I hope that by meeting Mr Mercer, he can see how our plans will have a positive effect the current and ex-serving members of the Forces community in Wiltshire”
Karen McArthur is the Op NOVA caseworker for the Forces Employment Charity in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, she adds:
“It has been so beneficial to be at this event, enabling us all to collaborate with partners and share expert knowledge, supporting the Forces and Veteran community.
“Contacts made during the event has provided an excellent opportunity to establish a dedicated referral pathway with partners, from statutory and voluntary organisations, to support ex-military personnel who are in contact with the Justice system.
“Furthermore, any future events that are happening, Op NOVA would very much welcome being part of.”
The OPCC will be now continue working with partners and supporting agencies for military and veterans/ex-military, to form a better understanding of the local need and strive to provide more coherent support.