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Ammunition (Scorriton Down)

Volume 129: debated on Wednesday 9 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why live ammunition was stored at Scorriton Down in the Dartmoor national park; what precautions were taken to protect it; how much was stored there; when the theft was discovered; and if he will make a statement.

Scorriton Down lies in an area used extensively for military training during the second world war. The range was closed in 1947 and clearance work lasted until 1949, at which time the land was returned to the owners. Since the equipment used to locate the munitions at that time was not as effective as its more modern counterparts, some items remained undetected until the discovery last year of some live ammunition. The Royal Engineers were then called upon to conduct what has proved to be a lengthy clearance operation.During the course of this clearance operation foolhardy members of the public have, quite contrary to common sense, and at considerable risk to themselves and others, deliberately dug up and removed four items of old

Ministry of Defence United Kingdom based civilian staff
1 January 19881 January 19801 January 1979
Number of staffPercentage of totalNumber of staffPercentage of totalNumber of staffPercentage of total
Total144,782·5100·0220,213·0100·0225,478·0100·0
England118,786·582·0183,850·083·5188,472·083·6
South-East61,369·542–495,519–043·498,488·043·7
London19,268·513·329,763·013·5n/a
Other42,101·029·165,756·029·9n/a
East Anglia2,579·51·82,796·51·32,950·01·3
South West30,026·020·750,930·023·152,126·023·1
West Midlands8,903·56·111,032·05·011,171·05·0
East Midlands3,966·52·77,820·03·67,959·03·5
Yorkshire and Humberside5,893·04·17,834·03·67,749·03·4
North West2,895·02·03,789·51·73,891·01·7
North3,153·52·24,128·01·94,138·01·8
Wales5,759·54·07,363·53·37,659·03·4
Scotland12,268·08·519,467·58·819,610·08·7
Northern Ireland2,618·01·83,231·01–53,305·01·5
Overseas-at sea5,350·53·76,301·02·96,432·02·9
For the purposes of consistency and comparability the figures exclude personnel employed at Royal Ordnance Factories, which changed to independent Companies Act status on 2 January 1985.Some 10,800 of the reduction in numbers in the southwest between January 1980 and January 1988 was due to the transfer of Royal Dockyard Devonport staff to commercial management on 6 April 1987, and some 5,700 of the reduction in Scotland between the same dates was due to the similar transfer of Royal Dockyard Rosyth staff.

munitions. These stolen items have since been recovered and destroyed, along with all other munitions found on the site to date.

In the light of this incident the Army is reviewing its operating procedures. Pending the outcome of this review, clearance work on Scorriton Down has ceased and the police have been informed of this. I shall write further to my hon. Friend once the review of procedures is complete.