Ground-breaking missing veterans initiative named after Hartlepool soldier is launched by Greater Manchester Police

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A ground-breaking initiative named after a Hartlepool veteran who took his own life has launched in an effort to prevent future tragedies.

The Forcer Protocol, named after Alan Forcer, is a six-month pilot project being trialled by Greater Manchester Police.

It aims to prevent suicide by making key information available quickly to police about service veterans, reservists and current serving members of the armed forces when they are reported missing.

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Alan, a father-of-three, from Hartlepool, who suffered with complex PTSD and debilitating depression following service in Northern Ireland and Kosovo, took his own life after going missing in May 2020.

Claire Lilley with actor Ross Kemp (right) at a pre-launch event in Parliament for the Forcer Protocol.Claire Lilley with actor Ross Kemp (right) at a pre-launch event in Parliament for the Forcer Protocol.
Claire Lilley with actor Ross Kemp (right) at a pre-launch event in Parliament for the Forcer Protocol.

Research has shown that veterans under 25 are two-to-four times higher at risk of suicide than the general population.

The protocol has been developed by Alan’s ex-wife, Claire Lilley, together with national police chiefs, forces charities and the organisation Safe and Found Online.

Claire said: “We as a family want to prevent veteran suicide, as do the police and all blue light services.

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"This is essentially Alan’s legacy and doing something productive for the wider community.”

Late Hartlepool veteran Alan Forcer.Late Hartlepool veteran Alan Forcer.
Late Hartlepool veteran Alan Forcer.

The three-step approach starts with police call handlers asking in every case if a missing person is known to be a veteran as part of the initial assessment.

They are then provided with access to vital information provided by the veterans families and service providers including the NHS and Safe and Found Online.

Once found, people can be referred to ensure they get the correct support they need.

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The protocol has been backed by Government ministers, the NHS and actor Ross Kemp, Safe and Found Online’s patron.

Lance Corporal Alan Forcer.Lance Corporal Alan Forcer.
Lance Corporal Alan Forcer.

He said: “Having worked with our armed forces and veterans for over 20 years, I know that many who have served our country often struggle adapting to civilian life.

“The Forcer Protocol is vital to ensuring the safety of vulnerable veterans and I fully endorse it and GMP in adopting it. I believe it should be also implemented at a national level.”

A pre-launch event attended by Ross and Claire was held in Parliament.

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Claire added: “As a family we are completely overwhelmed with all the support and passion for this subject matter.”

Greater Manchester was partly chosen because 3% of its population is made up of veterans.

*Anyone facing difficulties with their mental health can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.