UK — Army Inspector’s report into detainee handling published

An inde­pen­dent report into detainee han­dling by the British Army has been pub­lished today, Armed Forces Min­is­ter Nick Har­vey has announced.

The report’s author, Brigadier Pur­dy, was direct­ed by Chief of the Gen­er­al Staff, Gen­er­al Sir David Richards, to assess the cur­rent detainee han­dling sit­u­a­tion with­in the British Army. This comes two years after the Aitken Report, which exam­ined six cas­es of alleged detainee abuse in Iraq. 

Brigadier Pur­dy, the British Army’s Inspec­tor, took evi­dence from sol­diers and com­man­ders in Afghanistan as well as staff involved in pol­i­cy, doc­trine, legal advice, train­ing and the plan­ning and con­duct of operations. 

His team includ­ed inde­pen­dent mem­ber Mark Lewin­don, a retired senior civil­ian police offi­cer with expe­ri­ence of police deten­tion prac­tices and oth­er rel­e­vant fields. 

The report con­clud­ed that detainee hand­ing receives direct atten­tion from com­man­ders at all lev­els in the Army and MOD, and that progress iden­ti­fied in the 2008 Aitken Report is continuing. 

It also found that offi­cers and sol­diers clear­ly under­stand the pro­ce­dures to fol­low when han­dling detainees and know the poten­tial legal and strate­gic con­se­quences of mistakes. 

Brigadier Purdy’s review team also found no evi­dence to sug­gest that pre-deploy­ment and in-the­atre train­ing are fail­ing to pre­pare forces to car­ry out detainee han­dling in accor­dance with the law and policy. 

The review, com­mis­sioned at the start of the year, is part of the Army’s nor­mal busi­ness of con­tin­u­ous improve­ment. Such self-exam­i­na­tion ensures that the Army con­tin­ues to meet its high stan­dards in all areas and iden­ti­fies whether improve­ments need to be made. 

Brigadier Purdy’s report makes 31 tac­ti­cal-lev­el rec­om­men­da­tions for improve­ments to the cur­rent sys­tem of detainee han­dling. The Defence Board and Min­is­ters have accept­ed the con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions which have also been dis­closed to the Baha Mousa Pub­lic Inquiry, as part of the MOD’s evi­dence for the final stages of the inquiry. 

Brigadier Pur­dy said: 

“Com­man­ders on oper­a­tions in Afghanistan are clear­ly focused on the issue of detainee han­dling. There are gov­er­nance mech­a­nisms in place to mon­i­tor and assure detainee han­dling process­es, with any alle­ga­tions of improp­er behav­iour, includ­ing alle­ga­tions from detainees, ful­ly investigated.” 

Gen­er­al Sir David Richards said: 

“I take great pride in what the Army, along­side the oth­er Ser­vices, has achieved on oper­a­tions in recent years. The vast major­i­ty of offi­cers and sol­diers have acquit­ted them­selves with courage, integri­ty and hon­our, in extra­or­di­nar­i­ly demand­ing circumstances. 

“The han­dling of detainees is a crit­i­cal area and this report pro­vides inde­pen­dent assur­ance that even more is now being done than before to ensure our offi­cers and sol­diers under­stand the impor­tance of treat­ing detainees properly. 

“But we must not be com­pla­cent. Nobody should be in any doubt as to the impor­tance I attach to this issue and there are many rec­om­men­da­tions here to take for­ward. Detainee han­dling must be seen as a main­stream mil­i­tary skill rather than a mat­ter for specialists.” 

Armed Forces Min­is­ter Nick Har­vey said: 

“I am pleased the Review has found no evi­dence to sug­gest that train­ing is fail­ing to pre­pare forces to car­ry out detainee handling. 

“Nev­er­the­less, there are areas in which there is room for improve­ment and the Review makes 31 rec­om­men­da­tions. We intend to press ahead with imple­men­ta­tion as quick­ly as we can.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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