‘A veteran space’: A Military Integrated Nested Ecological Model to understand offending

AuthorJustin Moorhead
Published date01 March 2021
Date01 March 2021
Subject MatterArticles
‘A veteran space’:
A Military Integrated
Nested Ecological
Model to understand
Justin Moorhead
Liverpool John Moores University, UK
In recent years there has been an increased focus on military veterans as a distinct
population within the criminal justice system. The prevalence and nature of offending,
alongside the mental health concerns of this group have dominated existing research,
bringing us closer to an informed evidence base. Yet, it is widely acknowledged that
more research and insight into the complexity of the lived experience of this population
is required. In response, this article proposes a ‘Military Integrated Nested Ecological
Model’ (MINEM) as a useful analytical tool for those working with, supporting or
researching military veterans post-conviction. In order to better understand the veteran
offender, one must first understand the individual, familial, societal, and culturalspaces
which they have experienced. Such insight into the veteran’s life course, across these
‘ecologicalspaces’, offers a framework to plotthe life journey of the veteran, articulating
the various riskand need factors therein. Ultimately,such an approach culminates in the
realisation of the ‘veteran space’, or a representation of the complex and unique lived
experience of veterans within the criminal justice system. To accompany this,the article
will use alcohol-related domesticabuse, specifically intimatepartner violence, as a case
study to highlight issues specific to this offence and this population.
veteran, ex-service personnel, violence, alcohol, domestic abuse, intimate partner
violence, criminal justice
Corresponding Author:
Justin Moorhead, Liverpool John Moores University, School of Justice Studies, John Foster Building, 80-98
Mount Pleasant, Liverpool L3 5UZ, UK.
Email: J.A.Moorhead@ljmu.ac.uk
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2021, Vol. 68(1) 64–84
ªThe Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0264550520979355
With an estimated ex-military population of over two million people in the United
Kingdom, and approximately 14,000 people leaving the UK Armed Forces each
year, issues facing veterans are widely acknowledged (MOD, 2019a, 2019b).
Whilst the majority transition well, avoiding any interaction with health, welfare or
criminal justice services; homelessness, unemployment, drug and alcohol depen-
dency, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and criminality are all well-documented
for a portion of Ex-Service Personnel (ExSP) (HLPR, 2011; MacManus et al., 2013;
Napo, 2008, 2009). For some, entry into the criminal justice system will result. Yet,
accurate numbers of veterans in the criminal justice system (CJS) vary, with estimates
ranging from 20,000 (Napo, 2008) to ExSP representing 5%of all prison and
community order figures (Kelly, 2014). As no formal and standardised data
collection have been consistently employed, definitive figures remain elusive
(Albertson et al., 2017).
Nevertheless, since Napo’s (2008) declaration around ‘alarming numbers’ of
veterans in the CJS, this population has received broader academic attention. In
2010, Emmeline Taylor articulated the limited insight around the criminality of the
veteran alongside the experiences and difficulties of transitioning from military to
civilian life and pointed to the potential links between this process and subsequent
offending behaviour. Concerns were also expressed around professionals working
with this group, alongside the discipline of criminology more broadly, having little
understanding of this population, necessitating further research and insight, to
guide intervention and effective support of the veteran offender in the criminal jus-
tice system (Treadwell, 2010).
In response, this article will briefly reflect upon the evidence base regarding this
population, alongside the subsequent implications for policy and intervention.
Beyond this, the Nested Ecological Model proposed by Dutton (2006) will be
delineated and adapted to incorporate a veteran-focussed analysis. Through this
adapted framework, the links between militarisation and subsequent offending
behaviour will be explored and the implications for practitioners and academics
Existing evidence base of the veteran in the criminal
justice system
Since 2008, an increase in research around veteran criminality has taken place
(HLPR, 2011; Kelly, 2014; MacManus et al., 2013; Moorhead, 2019; Murray,
2013; Wainwrightet al., 2016). This, coupled with a sparse, pre-existing literature,
aligned with a broader, international literature, primarily emanating from America,
has contributed to something of an informed evidence base. Nevertheless, concerns
remain that further research is required to effectively know the veteran offender and
implement effective interventions for this uniquepopulation within the CJS (Fordet al.,
2017). Concerning the literature that does exist, Murray (2016) suggests this pre-
dominantly advances a psychological, positivistic understanding. Largely within a
Moorhead 65

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