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Accident (Dartmoor)

Volume 115: debated on Friday 1 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the injury to a 12-year-old boy by an explosive object found in the military training area in the Dartmoor national park on 22 April; and whether this date was a firing date.

On 22 April a group of six juveniles aged between 6 and 18 supervised by a local resident were on Okehampton range when there was an explosion injuring one of the party. There was no firing on the range on that day. The range boundary is clearly marked and public access to the area is at all times in accordance with the MOD range byelaws. Signs are clearly displayed warning the public of the dangers of picking up or searching for items of ordnance.I understand that the Devon and Cornwall constabulary investigations into the circumstances of the incident have concluded that on this occasion the public safety warnings were ignored and some members of the group were deliberately seeking out military souvenirs at the time of the explosion. This unfortunate accident, therefore, serves to underline the importance of observing the range byelaws, warning flags and notices which are intended to protect the public.We do everything in our power to make the Dartmoor ranges safe, but it should be noted that they have been used for military training for some 90 years. Members of the public have access to the ranges when they are not in use, but for their own safety they are clearly warned not to pick up or even touch any metal objects.The military investigations have not yet been completed and I cannot comment further at this stage.