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Weapons: Theft

Volume 486: debated on Thursday 15 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases there were of British servicemen and women being disciplined for stealing armed forces' weapons (a) abroad and (b) within the UK in the last 12 months. (246127)

[holding answer 12 January 2009]: Thefts of weapons are investigated by the service police, Ministry of Defence police or the Home Department police, either jointly or independently. We do not hold comprehensive information about all cases referred to the civil courts and so the information provided is based only on cases tried by courts-martial during 2008.

No service personnel have been court-martialled specifically for stealing armed forces weapons abroad or in the UK. However, 10 service personnel have been court-martialled for offences involving the theft of ammunition; being in possession of various items ranging from weapon parts to blank rounds of ammunition, plastic explosives and detonators; or the sale of weapon parts. Of these 10 cases, one was acquitted. In all other cases, sentences ranging from a £750 fine for possession of ammunition, to 15 years imprisonment and reduced to the ranks and dismissed with disgrace for selling SA80 rifle parts, were awarded.