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British troops investigated on sex offences soars to all time high
Exclusive: Number of sex assault reports continues to rise despite changes to law designed to help victims
The number of British troops probed on sex crime allegations has soared by more than 450% in just six years, Hybrid Magazine can reveal.
An all-time high of 342 trainees and fully-fledged members of the Navy, Army and RAF were investigated by the Royal Military Police over allegations of rape, indecent exposure and sexual assault, MoD figures show.
The number of investigations opened in 2022 is more than four and a half times higher than eight years ago, when 72 probes were carried out against armed forces members.
More than 60 rape reports were investigated by service police forces last year, twice the number of accusations made in 2016.
A further 228 sexual assault claims were probed by investigators last year, five times more than the 48 cases examined just six years prior.
The British Army was the most investigated force, with 228 cases related to soldiers, whilst the Royal Navy accounted for 62 and the Royal Air Force for 45.
Another 12 cases were probed as special joint operations between arms of the RMP.
And 44 of the reports made last year stem from incidents at British bases on foreign soil, including in Germany, Cyprus, Canada and the Falkland Islands.
The figures also reveal six forces personnel were probed over child sex crimes last year.
Some 22 serving military members have been investigated on underage indecency claims since 2020.
Two allegations relate to indecent assault offences allegedly committed in the 1990s.
Around two-thirds of investigations resulted in a referral to prosecutors, but less than half of referrals resulted in a sexual offence charge.
The number of complaints rose after a change in the law in 2018 forced all cases to be referred to service police.
Previously, complaints deemed relatively minor could be dealt with by soldiers’ Commanding Officers without any escalation or an official referral to authorities.
Earlier this year The Times reported that the prosecution rate for rape cases heard at court-martial was less than one-seventh of the rate in crown and magistrates’ courts.
One woman, who had her rape case dropped by the Royal Military Police, told the newspaper she was told to stop “sleeping around” after reporting sexual abuse.
The stats come after a string of publicised claims about the culture of the military and other forces heaped pressure on the MoD to make substantial changes to its investigative processes.
In October last year, the Royal Navy launched an investigation into allegations of rape threats and sexual assault on board Britain’s nuclear submarines.
The RAF also expelled two pilots from the Red Arrows after insiders claimed there was a pervasive “toxic” culture.
And in February, Army Corporal Simon Bartram targeted teenage girl recruits as young as 16 by deliberately walking into changing rooms as they emerged naked from the showers.
The married father of one, 32, also told a female teen: “I’d have a threesome with you and your mother,” praised another’s “nice bum and t**s” and pestered one to show him a tattoo on her bottom.
He was found guilty at a court-martial hearing and handed a 20-month sentence at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester in February.
At the start of this year, the Defence Serious Crime Command replaced the Royal Miltary Police’s Special Investigations branch as part of a restructuring effort following changes to the Armed Forces Act in 2021.
Ben Wallace, the outgoing defence secretary, at the time promised “high-quality and timely” investigations into claims of wrongdoing.
Officers based with the new unit were given specialist training to investigate sexual offences in the navy, army and air force.
The MoD was approached for comment.