Karl Turner – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Defence

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Karl Turner on 2016-04-19.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what guidance his Department issues to Commanding Officers dealing with allegations of sexual assault, voyeurism and sexual activity in a public lavatory as set out in Schedule 2 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.

Mark Lancaster

Commanding Officers (COs) are under a statutory duty, under the Armed Forces Act 2006, to ensure that allegations of any offences, including those mentioned here which are not on Schedule 2, are investigated appropriately. If a CO becomes aware of an allegation or circumstances which would indicate to a reasonable person that one of these offences has been committed, he must ensure that it is investigated appropriately. The allegation must, therefore, be reported to the Service police if it would be appropriate.

Guidance for COs about their responsibilities in relation to the investigation of offences is set out in The Manual of Service Law at Volume 1, Chapter 6. Paragraph 30A refers to the offences of sexual assault, voyeurism, sexual activity in a public lavatory and exposure, stating that the CO should take legal advice to assist him in making the most appropriate decision as to who should investigate such matters and that there is a presumption that a CO should normally ensure that the Service police are aware of such an allegation. The CO has access to legal advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Guidance in the Manual of Service law does not preclude the Armed Forces from issuing further policy on this issue, if this would best meet the needs of their own Service. The Army and Royal Navy have therefore decided to issue a policy instruction to the effect that any cases with a sexual element should be referred to the Service Police for investigation, and the Royal Air Force is currently considering whether to adopt the same approach.