21 August 2017

BBC Panorama - Cadet Abuse Cover Up


The Ministry of Defence sponsored Cadet Forces stand accused of covering up historic cases of sexual abuse, according to a recent BBC investigation.

"BBC Panorama - Cadet Abuse Cover Up" was broadcast on the evening of 4th July 2017. The half-hour programme detailed several allegations of Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) sexually abusing the young people in their care. In several of the cases highlighted by the programme, concerns were raised about the perpetrators of abuse but nothing was done about it by the Chain of Command.

According to Freedom of Information requests, in the last five years 363 sexual abuse allegations - both historical and current - have been made by cadet members of the Ministry of Defence sponsored Cadet Forces (the Army Cadet Force, RAF Air Cadets, Sea Cadet Corps and Combined Cadet Force). Of those, 282 cases have been referred to the police and 99 CFAVs have been dismissed.

A previous article by FOI By Proxy revealed that in the last five years the Ministry of Defence has paid £730k in compensation to cadet members of the Army Cadet Force making allegations of abuse against CFAVs. We have no information about the amount in compensation paid to cadet members of the other Ministry of Defence sponsored Cadet Forces, but it is likely to be significant.

About a month before the Panorama exposé it became apparent that online discussions were taking place about its contents. There was also an increased amount of search engine traffic arriving at our earlier article about compensation payments to Army Cadet Force cadets. Having viewed these online discussions it was apparent that the Ministry of Defence had gone into defensive PR mode in anticipation of the damning revelations of the Panorama programme. In particular, the Ministry of Defence had issued instructions to Cadet Force units and serving CFAVs about how to deal with media approaches.

With that in mind, we thought it would be interesting to see the information generated by the Ministry of Defence in relation to the Panorama programme. The Ministry of Defence provided a comprehensive response to our request, albeit a little late.

The full text of our request appears below:

Public Authority:
Ministry of Defence

Their Reference Number:
FOI2017/07235

Request by FOI By Proxy (sent 18th July 2017):
Dear Ministry of Defence,

I am making this request in accordance with section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

"BBC Panorama - Cadet Abuse Cover Up" was broadcast on BBC One at 2245 hrs on Tuesday, 4th July 2017.

In the months leading up to the broadcast of that programme, I am led to believe that the MOD, via its Service HQs, issued directions to ACF, CCF, ATC and SCC units about how to deal with media approaches on the subject of sexual abuse. I am also led to believe that Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) were written to on the subject of sexual abuse prior to the broadcast of the Panorama programme.

Under the terms of the Act, please provide the following information:
1. A copy of any correspondence distributed by the MOD (or relevant Service HQs) to ACF, CCF, ATC and SCC units that mentions or relates to the BBC investigation into sexual abuse or the Panorama programme.
2. A copy of any correspondence distributed to CFAVs that mentions or relates to the BBC investigation into sexual abuse or the Panorama programme.

Please note that I am only seeking relevant information produced or held by the MOD or its Service HQs. I am not seeking any information produced or held by individual ACF, CCF, ATC or SCC units.

In accordance with section 11 of the Act, please provide your response in electronic format to the return email address associated with this request.

Many thanks for your assistance with this matter.

Yours faithfully,

[Name]
On behalf of FOI By Proxy

Response by Ministry of Defence (received 21st August 2017):
The Ministry of Defence provided all of the information requested, apart from a few minor redactions under section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (relating to the personal information of identifiable living individuals). The Ministry of Defence exceeding the 20 working day time limit for providing a response or valid refusal notice by two working days.

Supporting Material:
You can view the Ministry of Defence's disclosure documents in this folder.

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