Show/hide main menu

News

News Highlights

UK military personnel at increased risk of violent offending

Posted on 15/03/2013
Armed Forces

Men who have served in the UK Armed Forces are more likely to commit a violent offence during their lifetime than their civilian counterparts, according to new research by King's Centre for Military Health Research at King's College London. 

The study was published today in a Lancet special issue on Iraq.

Most strikingly, the study found that the proportion of young servicemen (under 30 years old) with a conviction for violent offending was much higher than among men of a similar age in the general population (20.6% vs 6.7%).

“There has been a lot of media coverage and public debate about violence committed by veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our study, which used official criminal records, found that violent offending was most common among young men from the lower ranks of the Army and was strongly associated with a history of violent offending before joining the military. Serving in a combat role and traumatic experiences on deployment also increased the risk of violent behaviour”, explains Dr Deirdre MacManus from King’s College London, who led the research.

The first large-scale study of its kind, linked data from 13,856 randomly selected serving and ex-serving UK military personnel with national criminal records to assess the impact of deployment (serving in Iraq or Afghanistan), combat exposure, and post-deployment mental health problems on subsequent offending behaviour.

The researchers found that 17% of male service personnel in the study had a criminal record. Whilst overall lifetime offending (all offences from theft to assault) in the military was lower than in the general population, lifetime violent offending (ranging from threats of violence to serious physical assault or worse) was more common among military men (11% vs 8.7%).

Pre-military history of violence, younger age, and lower rank were the strongest risk factors for violent offending. Men who were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan with direct combat exposure were 53% more likely to commit a violent offence than men serving in a non-combat role. Witnessing traumatic events on deployment also increased the risk of violent offending.

Alcohol misuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and high levels of self-reported aggressive behaviour on return from deployment were also found to be strong predictors of subsequent violent offending.

According to Dr MacManus, “The findings provide information that can enable better violence risk assessment in serving and ex-serving military personnel. They draw attention to the role of mental health problems and the potential effect that appropriate management of alcohol misuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, especially hyperarousal symptoms, and aggressive behaviour could have in reducing the risk of violence."

The study was funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Ministry of Defence.

Paper reference: MacManus, D. et al. 'Violent offending by UK military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan: a data linkage cohort study' The Lancet (15 March 2013) doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60354-2

For further information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry Tel: +44 (0)207 848 5377 or email: seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk

Rss Feed Atom Feed

News Highlights:

News Highlights...RSS FeedAtom Feed

Report calls for strengthening of academic psychiatry

Report calls for strengthening of academic psychiatry

Description
Academics from King's Institute of Psychiatry contributed to a major new report making recommendations for strengthening academic psychiatry to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental ill health.
Smokers with mental health conditions need more help to quit

Smokers with mental health conditions need more help to quit

Description
A major new report co-authored by experts from King's Institute of Psychiatry states that smoking in people with mental health conditions is neglected by the NHS.
Inspiring Women: in conversation with Prof Dame Sally Davies

Inspiring Women: in conversation with Prof Dame Sally Davies

Description
To celebrate International Women's Day, King's Institute of Psychiatry invited Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England and the Government's principal medical advisor, to talk about the challenges for women in science.

Share this story:

 

Follow Us

@kingscollegelon

Live Twitter feed...

@kingscollegelon
Join the conversation
Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions Privacy policy Accessibility Modern slavery statement Contact us

© 2017 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454