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Defence Serious Crime Unit to be set up

It follows recommendations from a judge-led review into areas of military justice.

The Ministry of Defence is to establish a Defence Serious Crime Unit (DSCU), following recommendations from a judge-led review.

The DSCU is to be a tri-service independent body, combining the skills and expertise already available from within the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, the report says.

The probe, led by Sir Richard Henriques and commissioned by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, was launched to examine how the military deals with allegations of serious criminal wrongdoing.

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It also understands the need for a separate system for trying military personnel, which is done by Court Martial at specific military courts.

Sir Richard says that the service justice system is fit for purpose, necessary, fair and efficient.  

He indicated his support of provisions in the Armed Forces Bill on the Service Justice System, including retaining concurrent jurisdiction – so offences committed by someone subject to service law, whilst in the UK, can be tried either in the service or civilian justice system.

Some of his other recommendations include increasing the operating effectiveness of service police, better training, improvements to detention processes and the keeping of records.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "It is absolutely vital the UK has the most effective framework, skills and processes in place when it comes to investigating allegations of serious criminal wrongdoing by UK Armed Forces, which is why I commissioned this review last year.

"The recommendations of the review provide both greater certainty for victims and service personnel with reassurance and clarity on future operations.

"I thank Sir Richard for his report and we will look to make progress on his recommendations where possible."

Sir Richard's recommendations add to reforms made under the Overseas Operations Act.

The Government will bring forward amendments to the Armed Forces Bill to implement the recommendations on the DSCU.