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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 13:13 GMT
Q&A: The Deepcut mystery
The four Deepcut victims
Clockwise from top left: Sean Benton, James Collinson, Geoff Gray and Cheryl James
The Army's Deepcut barracks in Surrey will close, the Ministry of Defence is expected to announce, following the controversial deaths of four soldiers.

What is Deepcut?

Deepcut - full name, the Princess Royal Barracks at Deepcut - is the main training base for the Royal Logistics Corps.

Several thousand recruits pass through it every year.

What happened there?

Four recruits died there of bullet wounds in separate incidents between 1995 and 2002.

They were: Geoff Gray, 17, from Durham; Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings; James Collinson, 17, from Perth; and Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, north Wales.

Army investigations found they had taken their own lives.

But although an inquest recorded a suicide verdict on Mr Benson, open verdicts were recorded for Miss James, Mr Gray and Mr Collinson.

There have since been claims of a widespread culture of bullying and abuse at the barracks.

What do the families say?

Their families suspect the recruits may have been murdered, or driven to suicide by bullying.

And if they did commit suicide, they want to know what drove them to their deaths, why the deaths were not prevented and whether there has been a cover-up.

They are unhappy with the way the deaths have been dealt with and have repeatedly pressed for a full public inquiry, where a judge could call witnesses and force them to give evidence.

What is being done about it?

The government says there is no need for a full public inquiry, as there have been several investigations into the matter.

However, an independent review of claims of abuse at Deepcut was carried out in 2005, reporting in March 2006.

This followed the leaking of a dossier, compiled by Surrey Police officers who began investigating the four deaths in 2002, of more than 150 abuse allegations about Deepcut and other bases, including nine of rape.

The 416-page review reassessed all evidence previously considered and, although the head of the review believes at least three of the deaths were probably self-inflicted, (he decided not to examine the most recent death because it clashed with the coroner's investigation), he made a number of criticisms of army training practices and recruit care.

The review was not in public and the report does not support calls for a full public inquiry.

Are any other inquiries going on?

The Commons Defence Select Committee and Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) have both reported on their respective reviews of aspects of treatment of recruits in the forces - although neither specifically investigated the Deepcut deaths.

The committee criticised levels of bullying in the armed forces and called for the minimum recruitment age to be raised to 18.

The ALI also highlighted bullying and recommended better management of training and welfare.

They followed Surrey Police's report on its investigations of the Deepcut deaths.

The police said there was not sufficient evidence for any prosecution but recommended a broader inquiry into how the Army trains and supervises young recruits.

Have there been any prosecutions?

One person has been prosecuted over abuse at Deepcut. Leslie Skinner, an army instructor, was jailed for four and a half years for sex attacks on male recruits.

It is not thought he was directly linked to any of the four deaths.

Have there been other deaths?

Once the Deepcut events had begun being investigated, other deaths came under scrutiny.

There were more than 1,700 "non-combat" deaths in the army between 1991 and 2001, according to the Ministry of Defence's own figures.

Families of soldiers who died elsewhere - including Catterick barracks in North Yorkshire where there have been 27 non-combat deaths since 1990 - now want public inquiries too.

Has the Army made any changes in the light of all this?

The Army says it has already changed many procedures, and it has acknowledged "weaknesses" in some of its training.

It is now undertaking a "far-reaching" review.

What is the future for Deepcut barracks?

The government has announced that the Princess Royal Barracks part of the site will close in 2013 but the adjacent training areas and service family accommodation are to be retained by the MoD.

The barracks area is to be sold off and is earmarked to be used for housing.



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