Two tier criminal convictions

[name removed April 2013] made this Freedom of Information request to Department of Health and Social Care

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The request was partially successful.

[name removed April 2013]

Dear Department of Health,

During the discussions for the implementation of the Armed Forces Act 2006, there was open opposition in the evidence given by (amongst others), Gilbert Blades to the amalgamation of disciplinary charges and criminal charges in HM Forces summary hearings. This is due to the summary hearing not being a fair (HRA98 article 6 compliant) trial. However for operational effectiveness they were ignored.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...

Summary hearing's have deemed not a fair trial, in a recent report submitted to the Defence Select committee (the recommendations of the report can be found here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa... ).

The report highlights the fact the overwhelming majority of servicemen elect for a summary hearing (90% conviction rate) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa...
as they are ill informed by service legal advisors as to the consequences of a charge being proven and do not wish to "rock the boat" and elect for court martial (50% conviction rate). In my case I was led to believe my "criminal damage" conviction (a scuff mark on fire door hit by a plastic hoover nozzle) was purely a disciplinary matter (RAF police interview alludes to disciplinary action for criminal damage and being drunk and service disciplinary acts)
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B5Cec4M... ) despite the contrary claims by the MoD it was certainly not made clear to me it was a criminal conviction. However 2 years after leaving the RAF it had been disclosed on a CRB check. As a criminal conviction for criminal damage.

It would also seem there is tremendous confusion amongst the Army chain of command as to exactly what is a criminal conviction and what is not a criminal conviction. As highlighted by an internal Army memo http://www.channel4.com/news/army-discip...

Recent developments with HM Forces summary hearings have led to UKBA changing immigration law. This was done to allow former servicemen to be exempt from deportation rules. The deportation rules stated that an applicant for residency in the UK must be of good character and have no criminal convictions. In a recent highly publicised case http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9716785/... Bale Baleiwai originally had a criminal conviction for battery. He was unaware when he pled guilty that his charge was not only disciplinary but would be recorded as a criminal conviction under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Bale Baleiwai was granted an appeal for his original conviction and was found not guilty on 20 November 2012, which begs the question how did he have a criminal conviction he was unaware of? And why his CO felt the need for criminal proceedings in the first instance if he was not guilty?

Summary hearings are capable of hearing the following charges:-
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006...

These are not minor disciplinary offences, and you would hope an individual with a criminal conviction on this list would be aware that they had a criminal conviction. Especially if it is to impact after their service career may have ended.

I have requested the rationale as to why a Commanding Officer should not only to have powers to ensure discipline with service offences, but also act as prosecutor, judge and jury in criminal proceedings. I have additionally questioned the benefit of dragging out criminal proceedings for 7 months with an inevitable guilty finding of £40 stoppage of pay for a scuffed door, rather than choosing a quick non recordable service offence with a more harsh punishment. However the MoD have failed to respond.

Finally, my reasons for exposing this is because I believe it is completely ridiculous that my allegation that my RAF police interview tape has been edited has not been responded to by the MoD. There was sufficient doubt in the authenticity of the interview to open a "master" tape. A sealed "master" tape was opened, however two labels were created to seal the tape https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B5Cec4M... and I therefore believe there are two master tapes. In no correspondence has the MoD addressed the issue, and are filing all correspondence unanswered.

The MoD are able to break the law, under the guise of operational effectiveness, and are beyond scrutiny from any external organisation, and ruin future career aspirations etc without any independent checks or oversight.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ip...

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ar...

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ra...
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Subject to the freedom of information act 2000:-

1) Can I request any policy guidelines or documents that your public authority holds on the requirement for CRB checks for employment or to carry out daily business.

2)Can I request any policy, guidelines, information or documents that your public authority holds specifically for HM Forces summary hearings that you are aware that criminal convictions from this list http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006... have been passed off as only "minor disciplinary" offences by General Mike Jackson and Dr Liam Fox,
http://www.channel4.com/news/ukba-ignore... when pushing UKBA to change its immigration policy. Do these offences carry the same weight as if they came from a magistrates or crown court?

3)Can I request any policy, guidelines, information or documents that your public authority holds specifically for HM Forces summary hearing criminal convictions that the policy maker of CRB checks is aware that the conviction is potentially unsafe having not been given the benefit of a fair trial?

4)Can I request any policy, guidelines, information or documents that your public authority holds specifically for HM Forces summary hearing criminal convictions that the policy maker of CRB checks is aware that the conviction might have come about with edited Military police interview tapes?

Although I appreciate it is beyond the scope of the freedom of information act 2000, could you contact the MoD to confirm the information I have provided is accurate and if you or the MoD intend to to adjust your CRB policy as not to disadvantage former or serving servicemen with unfair criminal convictions?

5)Can I request any correspondence this public authority has had with the MoD on the subject of HM Forces summary hearings?

Feel free to pass this freedom of information request liberally to highlight the important issues raised, and to persuade the MoD that an Armed Forces Ombudsman is required. This was recommended after the Deepcut enquiry to provide impartial independent oversight to stop abuse of power. However was not implemented for operational effectiveness.

Yours faithfully,

[first name of requester removed] [last name of requester removed]

Department of Health and Social Care

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