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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 11:47 GMT
Who polices the army?
Soldiers
What happens when a soldier commits a crime or is accused of committing one? Who investigates the case and who is in charge?

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), when a solider in barracks or on duty is accused of committing a crime under British criminal or civil law the incident is initially investigated by the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police

It will report the case to civil police, who have ultimate authority over the investigation. Whether civilian officers get involved usually depends on the severity of the crime.

Under recent changes to rules, the police will now take charge of all investigations into the untimely deaths of soldiers, other than in action.

New rules

The MoD redrafted the Army's rules on the advice of police following the reopening of the investigation into the deaths of four young soldiers at Deepcut barracks in Surrey.

Under the guidance distributed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, forces are also being encouraged to make a more thorough investigation of any deaths at army camps.

If SIB are in charge of a criminal investigation, they can be asked to report to civilian police at any time to give an update on the case or discuss any concerns there might be with it.

Military law

If a crime takes place outside of barracks or while a soldier is off duty, the initial responsibility for the investigation lies with civilian police as they are usually the first to be called to the scene.

They will inform SIB and it will be decided who will investigate the incident, again the severity of the crime usually dictates this.

If a soldier breaks military law the case is investigated by the military police, with civil police having no jurisdiction over the case.

Soldiers can be fined or sentenced to imprisonment in a military jail for breaking military law.


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