In the years following the First World War, the United Kingdom, amongst other combatant nations, placed protections into law attaching criminal sanctions to the unauthorised and deceitful use of decorations and medals awarded to those returning from that terrible conflict. The provisions remained in force until they were repealed by the Armed Forces Act 2006 and not replaced.
A Private Members Bill has been introduced into the House of Commons to restore these protections to the statute book and is shortly due to receive its Second Reading. We have received evidence that points to a continuing problem with military imposters and it is our view that this specific harm should be countered with specific criminal sanctions. Such sanctions are common in other legal systems around the world and the lack of similar protection in the UK is exceptional.
We make a number of general observations on the nature and content of a Bill seeking to rectify the situation. Any new offences must be clearly defined to ensure that the correct categories of award are brought into scope, and that family members commemorating deceased or incapacitated relatives are not caught by the legislation.
The Committee supports the Private Members Bill and the principles that lie behind it. We look to the Government to endorse it and facilitate the Bill’s progress through Parliament.
16 November 2016