Allegations of sexual abuse emerge from Deepcut Barracks
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The Independent on Saturday reports on "widespread" sexual abuse at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey as well as a culture of bullying and intimidation.
The Deepcut story goes back to June 1995, when a soldier, Private Sean Benton was found dead with five bullet wounds to his chest. There were then three further deaths in 1995, 2001 and 2002 involving three teenagers serving as soldiers at the barracks. There are now allegations that one of these soldiers, an 18 year old woman was sexually abused together with "dozens" of other soldiers at Deepcut.
A report prepared by Nicholas Blake QC and release by the MOD in 2006 concluded that the deaths of three of these young soldiers were on the balance of probabilities self inflicted and considered that "low morale" was an issue in relation to all four deaths, together with a regime of bullying. The report made various recommendations to improve the lot of potentially vulnerable recruits.
In September 2005 the Ministry of Defence published an agreed protocol for the investigation of death on land or premises owned, occupied or under the control of the Ministry of Defence. This was followed by another protocol relating to arrangements in England and Wales between the MOD police and Home Office police. The police should now have unrestricted access to all information and material, subject to any legal restrictions on information that might undermine security or prejudice the national interest.
The families of the deceased are now seeking new inquests into their deaths. Previous investigations by MOD and Surrey Police have been criticised for failure to collect key evidence.
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