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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 16:34 GMT
NI soldiers convictions revealed
Soldier
Thousands of soldiers have criminal convictions
More than 1,300 members of the armed forces have received a criminal conviction while serving in Northern Ireland in the last six years.

The figure was contained in a reply to a Parliamentary question to Ulster Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon.

She said she was "absolutely shocked" and wants more details on the types of offences committed.

Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram outlined the convictions in magistrates' and crown courts.

Although there was no breakdown of what type of offences were committed, the minister disclosed that the number of convictions of Army personnel for this year up to 30 November was 83.

This was well down on 2003's figure, when there were 300 convictions.

In 2001 there were 242 convictions and it rose a year later to 281.

Two years ago, there were 282 convictions but that dropped to 158 last year.

"I want to know what types of offences are masked by these statistics and what the Ministry of Defence is doing to tackle what is obviously a very serious problem within its ranks," Lady Sylvia said.

Sinn Fein assembly member Philip McGuigan said the figures illustrated the need for the British Army to withdraw from Northern Ireland.

"People will be shocked at the extent to which criminality permeates the ranks of the British Army serving in the six counties (Northern Ireland)," the North Antrim member said.


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