BOSSES of a Wigan veterans’ charity are lobbying the government to introduce a court into the legal system specifically for members of the forces.
Wigan Borough Veterans’ Council supports veterans and their families across the borough and its bosses think something drastic needs to be done to address the number of offending former and current members of the forces.
Des White, chairman of the Platt Bridge-based council, said: “There is an extremely high number of veterans caught up within the British justice system, in fact 20 per cent of everybody in the system is a veteran.
“But we think that if we can intervene somewhere along the line we can help in a more long term way and address the issues that are leading them to offend.
“If we can get a Veterans’ Court introduced we can see offenders given referral orders rather than fines or prison sentences, that instead will mean they have to work with us 9am to 5pm five days a week for 12 months for example giving us chance to rehabilitate them.
“There are many reasons that veterans offend but the main ones are because they are suffering from combat stress or because they have been left without help struggling to integrate into a civilian world that is completely alien to them.”
The veterans’ council works closely with veterans across Wigan and is in the process of branching out across the North West.
Mr White added: “There are 20,000 veterans currently in prison but there is nothing being done to reduce this number. With a referral order system we could keep them out of prison, creating a vast saving, and give them the support they need as well. We have approached the government and the next step now is to show them the benefits it could bring.”