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Army Officers Must Report Sexual Abuse Claims

By Principal Lawyer, Abuse and Disease Teams

Senior officer in the armed forces will face prosecution for covering up rape and sexual abuse allegations to the military police.

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The Telegraph has revealed that ministers intend to change the law, meaning commanding officers made aware of sexual assault allegations have a duty to inform the police.

This follows news in 2015 of officers failing to refer cases of sexual offences to the Royal Military Police.

Ministers are to add offences of “sexual assault, voyeurism and exposure” to the Armed Forces Act 2006.

A Ministry of Defence source said: “A commanding officer has always been obliged to investigate any allegation thoroughly, but may have used his or her discretion with regards to making the service police aware.

“Now they will have no choice but to flag the case to the service police.”

The plans to change legislation follows the sexual assault claims by military police trainee, Ann-Marie Ellement, who tragically committed suicide at Deepcut barracks in 2011.

Mark Lancaster, the Armed Forces Minister, told the Telegraph: “We have always made it clear that there is no place for sexual offending in the armed forces and that all allegations will be investigated thoroughly.

“Whilst we believe our existing provisions reflect that, I also accept that this is a very serious and sensitive issue and it is important to clarify how we do things.

“With that in mind, I have decided to bring this draft secondary legislation before Parliament to ensure the service police will now be made aware of any sexual offence allegation.” 

Kim Harrison is Slater and Gordon’s national co-ordinator for human rights and an abuse specialist.

Slater and Gordon have the UK’s most experienced team of abuse lawyers and are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse.

We offer a free and completely confidential consultation to anyone affected by sexual abuse. Call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.

Physical Abuse Claims, sexual abuse