Police force offers support to veterans through new service
The Armed Forces Referral Service, launched on July 6, aims to reduce crime rates by providing better access to support for veterans and their families.
Thames Valley Police is one of the first forces in the UK to launch the ser- vice, which will provide veterans opportunities to access support from SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
When officers meet veterans, either through welfare or criminal incidents, they can now refer them to the support system in place.
Armed forces referral service lead, Police Constable Antony Colton, a former member of the army’s military police, spent the last nine months working on the project.
He said: “About four years ago I met a veteran. I had no idea who he was, he was just a man walking down the road who I thought I needed to talk to.
“He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he had been discharged from the Army for medical reasons, his family was breaking down and everything was going wrong for him.
“He then admitted he was on the way to kill himself.”
PC Antony Colton immediately referred him to the support system in place for people found in crisis, which he said is “very good”.
However, he added: “Members of the armed forces respond differently, their mentality is a bit different – it would have been better if we could have done some more.
“Anyone who comes into contact with TVP and who is identified as having any links with the British Armed Forces will be offered the opportunity to be referred to SSA- FA, a charity that offers practical, emotional and financial support to serving personnel, veterans and their families.
“No matter how complex their needs, working together we can do more.”
Julie McCarthy, director of volunteer operations at SSAFA, said she hopes this project will help with rehabilitation and produce lower re-offending rates in the area.
She said: “Working with Thames Valley Police will ensure that we will be able to provide more support to more veterans and their families who find themselves in the criminal justice system.
“SSAFA is extremely grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund for providing a grant to support a wider SSAFA project working with veterans and families in the criminal justice system.
“We hope this project will help with the rehabilitation of veterans and, in turn, lower re-offending rates.”