A PILOT programme, aimed at helping veterans who get arrested reach support services, has started in Cheshire Police custody suites.

The trial scheme, run by veteran’s charity Live At Ease, has been launched to address problems stemming from service with the Armed Forces.

The charity believes veterans may need support in adjusting to life after leaving the military, as they are at risk of poor mental health, homelessness and unemployment.

Under the pilot, anyone arrested is asked if they have ever served in the Army, RAF, or Navy.

Live At Ease believes if they are connected to the right services at the point of arrest, it will stop them from re-offending.

Alan Lily, senior veterans manager at Live At Ease, said: “There are a number of pilots around the country with a veteran strand, however, ours is only one of two in the country exclusively for the veteran community.

“The custody sergeants, civilian detention officers, and embedded health care professionals are now asking the question, ‘have you ever served in the Armed Forces’ to anyone brought in on arrest.

“If someone discloses their Armed Forces background we are notified and complete a full needs assessment.

“We’re funded until August next year, and we’re seeing on average about one veteran a day.”

Live At Ease had faced closure in December last year, before funding was agreed for the new scheme with NHS England.

Officials from the charity have also been present in custody suites during the pilot, which has been backed by Cheshire Police.

Insp Simon Meegan said: “Staff from the organisation work on a daily basis with police and health care professionals in custody, to provide liaison and diversion services to armed forces veterans.

“Training has been provided to custody staff to raise awareness of the issues faced by veterans in adjusting to life on ‘civvy street’, and identify those who have previous military service.

“This ensures early contact and support is provided through the criminal justice process and that they are able to access local authority services.

“Since its introduction last month, 42 referrals have been made from police custody.”