Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut
31. The deaths of four young soldiers at Deepcut
Barracks, and the inquiries conducted into those deaths became
a catalyst for the Armed Forces to reconsider their duty of care
policies and their implementation. Those deaths also prompted
this inquiry. As we explained in paragraph 4 we have not examined
the specific circumstances of the deaths of Pte Sean Benton, Pte
Cheryl James, Pte Geoff Gray and Pte James Collinson in this inquiry.
Surrey Police have investigated each of the deaths and they are
properly matters for the police, the Coroner and, potentially,
the legal system. In the course of their investigations, Surrey
Police became aware of aspects of the training regime that caused
them concern. Their Final Report highlights those concerns.
32. The media have frequently reported allegations
of bullying at Deepcut. A recent newspaper article quoted former
Deepcut recruits who had formed a group which was collecting statements
about bullying at the camp. Ms Joanna Jones, a member of the group
Staff crossed the boundaries of discipline into
humiliation and control through the use of fear
of staff members made our training unattainable and not only soul-destroying
but, for some, life-destroying. Senior officers stood back and
watched the morale plummet, self-harming soar and people die and
Another member of the group, Mr Paul Kerr, left the
Army after five weeks at Deepcut. He refers to an incident in
which a recruit was punched in the head by a sergeant, and another
in which a "boy was thrown against a wall so violently by
a member of staff I thought he had broken his back".
Another member of the group, James McAleese, trained at Deepcut
for several weeks. He said: "The general atmosphere at Deepcut
was one of depression with a high boredom factor, bullying and
We were contacted by a trainee currently at Deepcut, who states:
I can see how many of the young, less mature
'soldiers' would sometime deem themselves to be 'picked on'
and 'bullied' as it were. At the end of the day parades and
strangely timed [physical exercise] sessions employed as punishment
will be used if it prevents 17-19 year old 'boys and girls' behaving
in a way that is not becoming of a British Soldier... and believe
me, spitting at Sergeants, underage drinking, theft, fighting
and genuine levels of unhygienic conduct (to name a few) are all
acts that deserve a punishment. In the 8 months I have been here
I have seen no beatings, public downgradings, assaults (sexual,
physical or otherwise) or anything from the permanent staff towards
the recruits. If there is any, the recruits do that to each other.
It is not the staff who are in the wrong at this
time, it is the British Army for letting such obnoxious,
rude, immature youths complete phase 1 training and progress to
trade training while they should still be in bed for 10pm on week
nights and asking parents to support their paper round wages with
Deepcut is not a nice place. Accommodation poor,
food indifferent, but it would be a damn nicer place with people
here that want to actually want to be in the Army rather than
people who either can't get jobs in civvy street or whose parents
have thrown them out.
I can only speak for my Squadron here and
am sure some 'incidents' do occur.
33. We are unable to gauge whether this submission
is indicative of the view of most trainees currently serving at
Deepcut Barracks. It does provide a counterpoint to the majority
of evidence about bullying and of conditions at the camp.
34. Evidence from the families of the four recruits
who died at Deepcut Barracks identifies issues to be addressed
by MoD concerning initial training establishments and Deepcut
in particular. Written evidence from Mr and Mrs James included
criticisms of MoD and Surrey Police for its handling of the investigation
into their daughter's death in 1995 and renewed the Deepcut families'
call for a public inquiry into the four Deepcut deaths.
Mr and Mrs Collinson submitted evidence cataloguing their complaints
about the way in which they were treated by the Army and MoD after
their son's death at Deepcut in 2002. They also called for a public
inquiry to cover: supervision and armed guarding; bullying; deaths
at training establishments; liaison with families of recruits;
and independent oversight of armed forces training.
35. Evidence submitted by Mr and Mrs Gray on behalf
of Deepcut and Beyond listed alleged failures by the Army
chain of command in its supervision of recruits at Deepcut.
Their evidence also calls for an 'independent and judicial public
inquiry'; makes recommendations for the establishment of an Armed
Services Ombudsman; and makes 32 specific recommendations designed
to improve the provision of duty of care to recruits.
We note that the Minister announced a review to consider the circumstances
surrounding the four Deepcut deaths and we have met Mr Nicholas
Blake QC, who is to undertake the review. We consider Mr Blake's
inquiry later in this report (see paragraphs 441-446).