Criminal records from summary hearings

Discussion in 'Military Discipline' started by TheHippo, Mar 27, 2013.

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  1. While Military justice is in the news, I thought I would start a thread devoted to military justice in general terms.

    I am a little confused exactly what is in the interest of justice and what is in the interest in good discipline. For example the recent furore regarding Summary Hearings and if they are recorded as criminal convictions demonstrates a conflict of interest. On the one hand, Summary Hearings are a quick effective way for a Commanding Officer to discipline those he commands, but as seen with Bale Baleiwai a criminal conviction can have serious consequences. He admitted to the indiscipline of having a fight, but ended up with a conviction for Battery without knowing it. Deporting F&C soldiers is 'very harsh' - Channel 4 News
    What is more worrying perhaps is that on appeal the judge found he acted in self defence and consequently he was found to be not guilty, and the MOD have acknowledged it as a miscarriage of justice.

    I think the general consensus seems to be that summary hearings should not be counted as a criminal convictions see debate in parliament House of Commons Hansard Debates for 31 Jan 2013 (pt 0001)

    This seems like the obvious solution to the problem, but it is much more complicated. For criminal offences at summary hearings under AFA 06, Some punishments will result in a soldier having a criminal record and other punishments will not. Some cases will be very minor and should not warrant a criminal record, and some probably should result in a criminal record. However the whole thing is a mess, and no one really knows what will result in a criminal record and what won't.

    My advice to anyone charged is to take everything to Court Martial where you will be able to get a lawyer. Do not feel you should not rock the boat, because you could end up with a criminal record without knowing it. I personally think that a Commanding Officer at a Summary Hearing should not be capable of giving a criminal record, if that means changing the Service Justice System then so be it.

    I'd also appreciate people's thoughts on Sgt Nightingale. He has served his punishment (12 months suspended sentence) he cannot receive any additional punishment by law. Here is a press release from the SPA website:
    Effectively it is deemed in the interest of justice to prosecute Sgt Nightingale to determine if he is to have a criminal record or not (he cannot be punished or kicked out) yet there are perhaps thousands of soldiers with criminal records that they or the Army did not realise would end up as convictions. Does anyone else find it a bit ironic?
  2. you raise a good question with this, and I would ask when summary dealing started being recorded as criminal convictions in the civil system.

    having passed CRB checks on numerous occasions yet having been dealt with summarily for what would be public order offences during early service (which invariably resulted in 7 & 7 or stuck in the camp nick) one has to assume those offences didn't produce lasting records, but at some time after that they started to.

    is this specifically a problem that only started fairly recently or is it an indicator of only certain charges triggering a permenant record ?

    with respect to the case you sighted on SGT Nightingale its possible the will be able on retrial to be cleared of any wrongdoing in the first place and thus receive back his pay and allowances from his period of confinement along with getting his record(s) expunged or have his original sentence upheld but with regard to he civil record as its a courts martial trial should that not already trigger a civilian record of wrongdoing be recorded where it is found to be the case for any and all trials ?

    we are told its the simpler way of getting bounced and remaining in service to face a courts martial than a civilian trial and that its also a much faster system to gain a hearing under, but its the military equivalent of crown court, I don't know if there is a right or wrong answer to them being able to enter the details of a guilty verdict onto the Police National Computer system, although I would suggest remove all summary dealing results and only allow courts martial cases to hold that ability would be at least a fairer system (what with being allowed legal representation)

    its certainly food for thought though will be interesting to see how it pans out in the coming months (at least I hope it only takes them months and not years to fix the problems)
  3. shouldn't those things be dealt with under minor action though rather than via summary dealings by CO's(or under delegated sub unit powers).

    also wouldn't the accused's advisor be the one who advised them to just take the punishment and get on with life ?

    not sure about basic I haven't been near a depot in over a decade so not got experience of how they run under the changes...
  4. I think the whole service justice system is a bloody mess. The AFA 2006 did go some way to making it slightly more fair, but not by much. The whole thing should be scrapped, the unaccountable RMP (no recourse to the IPCC/professional standards) should go back to being traffic policemen, and the MOD police should take over investigation of service crimes.

    Along with this, soldiers should be charged by the CPS, tried by magistrates/crown court, and the ability to give soldiers a criminal record taken away from COs.

    Having a totally separate justice system for servicemen/women isn't necessary, is expensive and a lot of guys don't realise that they sign up for is when they sign up for the job, nor is it well explained at any point during your career.
    • Like Like x 2

  5. I believe it stems from the Armed Forces Act 1996 that gave the RMP additional powers, although the Armed Forces Act 2006 affected the Rehabilitation of Offender Act and set up the Service Police Crime Bureau. See NACRO report

    What does concern me is the haphazard way everything is being carried out. For the same criminal offence admonishment will lead to a criminal record, but demotion or forfeiture of seniority will not. There is no consistency, because sometimes the Summary Hearing "conviction" is not passed over to the Service Police Crime Bureau and recorded, and other times it is. "Pot luck criminal records."

    It's so ridiculous the MoD do not even know what they have out on the Police National Database. They are putting on non conviction data for intelligence. Is that even legal?
    Armed Forces: Crime: 5 Nov 2012: Hansard Written Answers and Statements - TheyWorkForYou

    I know an army criminal record will read the same as the civilian equivalent of the criminal offence and will not mention contrary to the Armed Forces Act, it manifests itself exactly the same as a magistrates or high court conviction. To be honest I have one and although it has not stopped me getting a job, I have a great employer, I don't think I can travel to the USA under the visa waiver program even when the conviction is spent. Visas | Embassy of the United States
    It will would also probably stop plans to emigrate, it all seems mad for a scratch on a Barrack block door!!
  6. that does seem rather excessive, I could understand if the redcap list recorded regi entries (because its meant to) but company sheets aren't meant to travel with you, meaning only charges levied by the CO or above could remain,

    when they talked about linking the PNC to the RMP database it was supposed to be to make CRB checks easier and cheaper (since it cost £500 from a units budget for each of a redcap check and a PNC check) but you are probably right in the assertions of causing problems on visa's or relocating abroad (particularly for USA/Canada/Australia)

    it would seem that some sanity checks need to be conducted and a formalisation of making it only courts martial guilty verdicts getting added to the PNC, thee would seem to be little value in keeping records on unit dealings although I seem to recall several years ago they stopped recording summary verdicts on P1O's to stop them getting recorded on permanent records, which looking back probably means I and a lot of others got lucky with our units system.

    at one the CSM got charged for adding a list of verdicts on P1O's when unit policy was only if criminal damage occurred or if the offence had resulted in inability of the involved to work....and he published all the cases for the preceding month.....

    maybe that was the "qualifier" for getting a criminal record cos he "disappeared" after it happened and the post was gapped for a few months, but in my side of life although we would charge people all the time none of it ever went on P1O's until a new CO came in and changed that, hell I submitted 100's of charge sheets for the "grownups" to plough through in my last few years, i seriously hope those poor sods didn't end up with civi endorsements over any of them (most were mandatory charges for losses or barrack damages over a weeks wages)

    very scary if they did, explains why one of the clerks asked to use the obsolescent cash payment form......

    hell I might even have a record now my last act in the forces was to get billed £450 for a carpet in my MQ, don't know I haven't had to renew the CRB since leaving as I no longer work, scary thought really if my next op works out I was hoping to take the family on an overseas holiday.

    but that must have been some scratch if it cost more than a weeks wages to fix, unless your talking about the kind done with a truck on the hanger door..
  7. It does not need to be a massive fine, £40 stoppage of pay or even admonishment technically should lead to a record. Does not seem like there are many hard and fast rules though
  8. if its a minor barrack damage why is your QM staff not just billing you for it, the rigmarole of charging someone for a damage of less than 7days pay is a bit stupid, hell the only time a loss should be done via the charge system is if its a permanent item that its not possible to strike off public charge locally, you should not receive a charge so long as you agree to sign the paperwork (and for minor crap most QM depts will accept coffee/tea/biscuits because you have been punished and it saves the paperwork.....

    seems like a overzealous individuals with an axe to grind if they ignored the options available for minor charges, (hell if its less than a certain amount it used to be the case that if a person disputed it rules said it wasn't worth pursuing the debt and it should be put in the losses register as improvable or unrecoverable debts)

    no doubt all those cool rules have been rewritten again though so now it all attracts a charge sheet for the CO to deal with
  9. Bob Stewart "Are you suggesting that someone found guilty of absence or minor theft incurs a criminal record that follows them into civilian life? If you are, I am slightly concerned by that."

    TBH, I find it hard to see how there can be a 'minor' theft in a military environment. Many breaches of military discipline do not carry across into civillian life, a dirty weapon is quite rightly a serious military offence however a dirty photocopier in the office? Coffee cups not washed up and left all over? The military is a unique environment however some offences cover both walks of life, assault, theft etc etc..... I think many young soldiers are quite unaware that someday the actions that they see as 'blokes on the piss' and 'what happens on tour stays on tour....' may well come back to haunt them in civillian life.

    Maybe it might be a good idea to devote a bit more time in basic to not just military law but also the effects and ramifications it may well have later on in life.
  10. I can't believe the system has changed so much to the disadvantage of the soldier. Surely the infringements you mention should be dealt with by either his Platoon Commander, or for a repetition, his Company Commander? These are minor disciplinary matters, essential to running a Unit but you state allowed to opt for Courts Martial? How did that come about, I would have thought that that option would only be available for what would be construed as a Civil Offence outside of the Military and dealt with, by way of Regimental Entry, by the Commanding Officer or should the Soldier wish a Courts Martial. I was under the impression that the only findings against you that followed you into civvy street were Reggy Entrys and now find that these are handily converted into Criminal Convictions!!! Unbelievable!
  11. iirc co's are only able to delegate to sub unit commanders (so oc's ) and that cant be passed down further to pc's, with the exception being those det or lad commanders who have passed the requisite oc's cadre to be able to receive delegated powers for summary dealings, in some units they just delegate to the regt or bn 2ic and keep everything in the top corridor to ensure everyone is treated the same ....... not that favourites don't get slightly lighter awards still but at least you don't have one oc giving out 7 &7 for fluffy uniform and another dishing out a week in the clink...
  12. If you commit a CRIMINAL offence and you are convicted of it you should expect a criminal record

    I think a minor theft by an adult indicates dishonesty and should be documented. If not what happens the next time it happens.

    Rehab of Offenders applies.

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  13. BryanTheMegladon I completely agree, theft is theft minor or not. In my case, a scuff mark on a door is Criminal Damage. I cannot argue with that, (although in civvy street I doubt it would have gone that far) what I dispute is the inconsistent approach to recording the convictions, and the lack of guidelines to make it clear that marching into a CO's office is akin to a court with no safe guards. The problem is what happens to those with convictions that do not realise it? Most will have admitted to their mistakes without realising the nature and implications of the charges, but many (like Bale Baleiwai who acted in self defence) are not guilty and have wrongful convictions. The whole things a mess and needs sorting out.

    Also the lack of oversight over police (no ipcc) and Army Legal services means miscarriages of justice are more likely to occur. I think there needs to be more changes to the whole Service Justice System.

  14. Do you think standards of Military discipline expect higher standards than civilians, if so is there not a risk that things will be prosecuted that otherwise would not be in civvy street?

    A soldier won't rock the boat and argue the toss, so I think there is a real danger they will admit the charges against them without understanding them. Bale Baleiwai is a classic example he pled guilty in a Summary Hearing but was found not guilty on appeal because he acted in self defence.

    Surely you must agree that if you do not understand the nature and implications of the charges against you if you then the summary hearing conviction is flawed? How can you not know you have a criminal record?
  15. BryanTheMegladon - It does seem unfair with regards your case although legally, I believe, a scuff mark can constitute criminal damage. A lot of the time, its a question of how proportionately the rules are enforced, not how sensible they may me. In the case of Bale, yes, it does seem a travesty of justice and qite rightly has been exposed as such and I'm sure for each Bale, there are many others out there who have been screwed by the system. Hopefully, over time, the system may adapt and shape to modern times however at present it can be seen to be pretty inflexible at times.

    To be pedantic, megladon is the US spelling, here in the UK we stick an 'a' in there to make it megalodon - apparently it stems from inconsitencies in the Latin translation. If I could charge you I would - I would make ANY US spelling in the UK illegal - it's just bloody lazy! :)