Project Nova: a pilot study to support veterans in the criminal justice system

Matt Fossey, Linda Cooper, Lauren Godier-McBard, Alex Cooper

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned Report


    There are many indicators that an ex-Service person is struggling to transition successfully into civilian life. But none can be more stark than the alleged perpetration of a criminal act, followed by arrest. Here we are not necessarily concerned with the causes of offending, and indeed whether they are service-related, although we clearly recognize that the deep, but not bottomless, well of public sympathy can more likely be drawn from when they are. What is attractive is the concept that early intervention can prevent far worse outcomes, with the attendant social, economic and personal costs. Project Nova represents just such an opportunity, where the trajectory of a failing transition can be turned around, and a modest, targeted intervention can make a decisive impact.

    Forces in Mind Trust funds work that generates evidence, so as to influence policy makers and service deliverers and hence have them improve their ‘offer’. This evaluation has shown the positive impact brought about by Project Nova, and we are delighted it has done so. But it would be remiss were we not also to observe that this impact, by necessity, has not been measured in the medium term. Arguably that doesn’t matter, as even a neutral impact would not outweigh the short-term benefits. In that regard, the follow-on funding that Project Nova has received is welcome news and the service evaluation aspects of this study will need to be incorporated as the intervention expands across the United Kingdom.

    This has been a positive trial, supporting a cohort of ex-Service personnel that faces particularly challenging circumstances, and the results fully justify its extension so that others in a similar position can benefit from it. Prevention, even at such a late stage of a wayward transition journey, remains an option, and an opportunity.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherForces in Mind
    Commissioning bodyForces in Mind Trust
    Number of pages72
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2017


    • Veterans
    • Criminal justice


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