Armed Forces Covenant

Armed Forces Covenant

CFO to improve access to resettlement provision for ex-Services personnel

CFO are proud recipients of a £500,000 grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund to support fast-tracking onto resettlement schemes and enhanced provision for ex-Services personnel who have been recently discharged from the military and have received a custodial sentence following conviction. CFO’s scheme will be branded as Network for ex-Services Personnel or NESP.

The focus will be on ensuring continuity of provision and supporting individuals through what can often be a difficult period of transition between the structure and discipline of military life that they had grown used to and that of either entering custodial estate or returning to their home communities in lesser circumstances than they had originally envisaged. CFO have worked closely with the staff of the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester to design the programme of delivery.

The new annual fund was launched in June 2015, demonstrating the Government’s long-term commitment to supporting schemes under the Armed Forces Covenant. The Covenant is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly. The 2015 fund priorities are community integration, the coordination and delivery of support to the Armed Forces community, and veterans in the criminal justice system. It is this last strand under which this new initiative has been approved.

NESP has three broad aims or delivery strands:

  1. Continuity of resettlement provision for those transferred to custodial estate
  2. Continuity of resettlement provision for community discharges from MCTC Colchester
  3. Trend analysis to inform future provision

The grant is part of the new £10m Covenant fund awarded to 174 Armed Forces projects.

Fifty-nine small grants totalling almost £1m were awarded in late 2015 and a further 93 small bids worth £1.46m and 24 larger bids exceeding £7.4m have now been announced. Community integration projects involve civilian and military communities working together and therefore increase understanding between them. The coordination and delivery of the support strand is about delivering services such as healthcare, along with improving employability and social support. Schemes that help veterans in prison and on return their return to civilian life will benefit from £4.6m.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

The new fund strategically targets areas of need. Every year, this £10m will go towards worthy projects that fully promote the principles of the Covenant.

Further information about the Covenant Fund in general can be found here

For further information specifically about NESP, please contact:

Strand 1: Continuity of resettlement provision for those transferred to custodial estate

This strand builds upon the strong links developed between highly motivated staff at MCTC Colchester and the HM Prison Service receiving establishments for those transferred to custody following a court martial. The focus will not be on this initial transfer, rather it will be upon the subsequent transfer to a prison which is more more appropriate to the individual’s risk categorisation and/or home returning location. This transfer often takes place quickly and it is at this point that the specific resettlement requirements arising from their ex-Service personnel status can become lost and replaced with more generic actions.

This issue with recording and case planning is often exacerbated by the individual's reluctance to identify themself as being ex-Services personnel. NESP will endeavour to address the 3 recurrent themes which seem to underpin why individual's are no longer identifying themselves at this point, specifically;

  • a degree of shame/embarrassment associated with letting themselves and the Service down,
  • a general disengagement from support networks including family and community as well as resettlement services,
  • a perception that they could be targeted in some way by radicalised prisoners

NESP will ensure that the specific resettlement requirements are foregrounded by guaranteeing entry onto CFO provision for every individual meeting the basic eligibility criteria.

A NESP Case Worker will operate across MCTC Colchester and receiving establishments. This way they will be ideally placed to link directly with MCTC Colchester to ensure all resettlement actions are captured on the CFO resettlement and case management system (CATS). They will then facilitate informed case handovers to the equivalent case worker for each establishment that the individuals are transferred to beyond the initial receiving establishment. The Case Workers will be aware of their status, both from the handover and the CATS resettlement plan and will be able to approach the individual in a supportive and confidential way to ensure they stay engaged and their resettlement actions are appropriate.

This continuity of provision will carry through each move around the prison estate and into the community for the duration of the licence period as CFO has full community coverage for England with CATS integrated across the custody and probation networks. CFO are currently examining options to extend similar levels of support to Wales.

Strand 2: Continuity of resettlement provision for community discharges from MCTC Colchester

Currently around 250 individuals per year that serve their sentence at MCTC Colchester are discharged rather than returned to their respective units.

This group are not subject to any licence conditions and therefore receive no statutory support from either the National Probation Service or their respective Community Rehabiliation Companies. The charges to which they are subject range from those which would not normally fall under the remit of (e.g. AWOL, insubordination related) through to more serious offences which would ordinarily bring them before the courts if they were not active members of the Armed Forces.

Research shows that reoffending rates without intervention remain stubbornly high within the offender population generally and are only significantly affected by static factors such as maturation (typically there is a slow reduction from around 28 through to 45 years of age). The age profile for detainees at MCTC Colchester fall squarely within this category.

Although this group may not readily identify themselves as offenders, many of the resettlement issues faced by the general offender cohort equally apply. However, this group can not easily access support, technically being neither serving personnel or ex-offenders. NESP aims to fill the gap left by a lack of statutory support for this group.

Specifically, CFO will develop infrastructure to enable these individuals to be identified and access available services via CFO providers in the community. This will involve establishing links via a NESP Case Worker working across HMP Chelmsford and MCTC Colchester to identify eligible individuals who can be referred for access to CFO provision. It is hoped that the development of a better support infrastructure will lead to better understanding of the issues faced by individuals discharged on this basis and increase admission to opportunities not easily accessed currently.

The NESP Case Worker will work with staff at Colchester to identify individuals who potentially could benefit from this additional support from the existing CFO3 national supply chain. Looking to the longer term, technical solutions will be explored to enable detail of individual resettlement needs to be entered onto CFO case management system (CATS).

For those individuals who would not naturally be clients such as AWOLs, referrals will be made to community based organisations providing specialist support.

Strand 3: Trend analysis to inform future provision

CFO do not currently have access to datasets and hard data for the relevant cohort and therefore are not able to do the detailed analysis required to measure effectiveness of outcomes and level of support required, on the other hand MCTC Colchester are not able to access data about future offending and long-term effectiveness of their interventions and support.

CFO's team of data analysts will work closely with MCTC data specialists within MCTC Colchester's Offender Management Unit. Protocols will be developed which will allow controlled data exchanges, compliant with all legislative controls and protections, which will enable trend analysis for both parties. The protocols will cover frequency, scope, compliance, governance and data handling, duration of storage and secure transfer.

A number of reports capturing trends will be made available to relevant parties throughout the lifetime of NESP, although it is envisaged that this will be developed sufficiently to become legacy activity continuing beyond the life of the project. These will both test hypotheses and be bespoke to respond to particular requirements of stakeholders.

Organisational Delivery Map


Grant Fund Opportunity - First Step Fund

National Offender Management Services () Co-financing Organisation (CFO) is offering grants of up to £30,000 to organisations that deliver services or complementary activity for ex-services personnel involved with CFO or the wider criminal justice system. is currently in receipt of a Covenant Fund grant from the Ministry of Defence to provide these grants. Organisations should contribute to identifying gaps in provision for ex-services personnel and improve links between the Military Corrective Training Centre, Colchester and English prisons. The deadline for applications is 14th March. To read more click here