I remember watching several Panarama and it's ilk type documentaries about this. One of the things which struck me is that several of those killed were awaiting discharge for basically not being good enough (failed tests, bft's etc), and whilst I have every sympathy for the parents who's son\daughter was army mad, they were not the kind of people I would have considered giving a gun to. And why were they stagging on alone?
They are currently discussing this on the Jeremy Vine Show (Radio 2) and haver had a civvy lawyer arguing about the army's duty of care to recruits and the way they were treated. In short he says that recruits are to be hugged and treated softly because surely they are capable of disiplining themselves when push comes to shove.
LONDON (Reuters) - A parliamentary inquiry into the mysterious shooting deaths of four young army recruits has been ordered after a police report -- the fifth into the case -- criticised the way the military trains its soldiers.
Grieving families of the four soldiers, three men and one woman who died separately from gunshot wounds at the Deepcut barracks near London, refuse to believe they committed suicide, as previous official investigations have concluded.
They have waded through five reports into the deaths -- including a Surrey Police report published on Thursday -- but are still demanding a full public inquiry.
The deaths, which happened between 1995 and 2002, have prompted accusations of a cover-up and raised questions over a so-called culture of bullying at British army bases, where the youngest recruits are just 16-years-old.
The chairman of the Commons Defence Committee said on Thursday that in the light of the latest police report he was planning a wide-ranging review of issues raised by the deaths.
"We'll have to look at the armed forces in general and look at recruitment, selection, training and discipline," Bruce George told Sky News.
"I would be amazed if the committee did not want the families to give evidence at the inquiry. There is not the slightest doubt that it will be a very fair report," he said.
But for a father of one of the dead soldiers, the planned inquiry will be too broad and not get to the bottom of how his son died:
"Obviously we welcome the committee's decision to look at the deaths but we think the only way forward is a full public inquiry," said Geoff Gray, whose 17-year-old son Geoff was found with two gunshot wounds to the head in September 2001 while he was on guard duty.
The first Deepcut death came in June, 1995 when Private Sean Benton, 20, was found dead with five bullet wounds in his chest. Five months later, the body of 17-year-old Private Cheryl James was discovered with a single bullet wound to her head.
Private James Collinson, 17, died from a single gunshot wound while on duty in March, 2002.
A forensics expert hired by the victims' families concluded last year that it was unlikely the soldiers committed suicide.
Surrey police, who have previously concluded there were no grounds for prosecution in the deaths, said in the latest report that a broader inquiry should study why young soldiers are particularly vulnerable to undetermined death, self-harm and suicide.
"We remain concerned that more needs to be done to address areas of risk and strengthen the care regime for young soldiers in training," said Surrey Police Chief Constable Denis O'Connor.
But the main point of the whole report is that they stick with the findings of the last one in that "they could not find any evidence to suggest the four were murdered" and "there were no grounds for a criminal prosecution over the deaths".
Seems the report says that the army has to look after their recruits so they don't get depressed and commit suicide or are better trained to handle live ammo. Sh1t, if they can't handle the training or can't be trusted with live ammo they shouldn't be in the army in the first place!
Why waste more time and money on a public enquiry when an independent police force has investigated it thoroughly several times already?
There's something quite infuriating about this report, and that is that it highlights many things that those of us of all ranks who have been involved in training regiments (esp Ph 2) already knew, and had identified to the chain of command. Having a handful of military staff for a Regiment of 1200 Phase 2 recruits is not providing the slightest duty of care for our young soldiers. Most of our reasonable requests - such as having essential maintenance on accomodation facilities - fell on deaf ears (not within the Regiment either). We seemed to have been caught up in PPPs, and cost control, rather than taking into account the actual cost of soldiers (both tangible and intangible).
SATT were an issue that were within our control, and my Regiment took steps years ago to send them out to units, until their courses started. This had a marked effect on retention of young soldiers, and decreased the incidences of welfare, admin and discipline cases.
Psychological profiling of recruits, before they enter the door, could go a long way to reducing wastage in Ph1 and Ph2 training, and some basic studies have been conducted where personality traits have been identified using these means that indicate that a young person would most likely fail to complete training.
The families should take heart in the success of their campaign, but it must be remembered that the Regimental chains of command within the ATRA have tried hard to ensure that their duty of care was dicharged, despite the best efforts of the bean counters to strip the military ethos out of the training regiments in the name of cost savings.
Finally, whether or not it was murder is another issue, but having been there when a similar incident occurred, there is no warning of a determined suicide attempt, it just happens. A bright, smiling happy young person may suddenly decide that his/her life is not worth living. With access to a loaded weapon, his/her suicide attempt is all the more easy. The reason for this attempt - a Dear John/Janet letter from home.