The Times, 29 January 2013 no 70794
Deborah Haynes Defence Editor
Rape and sexual crimes with the Armed Forces are far more widespread than previously admitted, The Times can reveal.
More than 260 rape allegations have been made against servicemen in the past three years- far more than the figure disclosed in the Parliament last year.
The numbers, contained in an internal briefing note, raised concern among MPs and campaigners, who have been pushing the Ministry of Defence for greater clarity over rape and other sexual offences committed within the Forces.
"There is an even higer, frightening level of cover up, violence and complacency within the military than I suspected, if The Times has the correct figures", said Madeleine Moon , a Labour MP and member of The Defence Select Committee.
"The MoD response is worrying,as it appears to indicate that a large number of rape allegations stem from civilian victims of Army perpertrators."
The restricted document, prepared for a meeting last October of the Army Justice Board, said that rape was the largest single category of sexual offences. Some 60 rape allegations were made in the first three quarters of last year . This compared with a total of last year. This compared with a total of 85 rape allegations involving Army personnel-either as victims, perpetrators or both- in 2011 and 103 allegations of rape in 2010.
Last June, Andrew Robathan, a defence minister, volunteered much lower statistics in response to a parliamentary question from Mrs Moon about the numbers of Army, Royal Navy and RAF between 2010 and June 2012. He put the total at 53.
The Times understands that the discrepancy comes beacouse the answer given to Mrs Moon was based on investigations by the military police services, whereas the higer numbers from the internal Army document were gathered from a varirty of sources, They also included cases in which alleged victims was a civillian.
Mrs Moon, who is planing to hold a parliamentary debate on the millitary justice system on Thursday, said that the MoD had no clear idea of the scale of problem.
Lisa Longstaff, a spokeswomen for Women Against Rape , an organisation that offers support to the victims of sexual assault, described the issue, of rape in the military as ''horrendous''.
She said:''We think its widespread-sexual harassment,rape and sexual assault. Women have contacted us in the past who have experienced one of those three things. Our key comcern is that none of these women are getting justice or protection or compensation and it does increasingly look like there has been a concerted cover-up."
A spokeswoman for the MoD said that any allegation of sexual assault or harassment was taken ''extremely seriously, thoroughly investigated and appropriate action will be taken''.
She said: ''The Work Women Forces work hard to ensure that all personnel are aware of the channels and services available to personnel to report incidents we would expect to see the rise in numbers of allegations made''.
The internal Army memo also revealed that allegations of child sex offences were higher in the first nine months of 2012 that in the previous year. It estimated an ''end of year total of 35 allegations, which is a 40 per cent increase on 2011.
The Army has put in place a number of initiatives to tackle the problem of sexual offences. They included a poster campaign and an effort to educate the chain of command about the importantce of the isse. Greater alcohol awareness was also deemed important.
''Although a casual link between alcohol and sexual offences involving violence (rape and sexual assault) can not be proved ,alcohol may have been consumed prior to 70 per cent of these acts,''the internal briefing note said. It added: ''In summary, no one measure is likely to have a significant effect on its own, but combinatined they may deter individuals from committing these acts.''
Sex case reaction ended my Army life