New investigative unit launched to handle serious criminal offences across defence

The Defence Serious Crime Command (DSCC) and Defence Serious Crime Unit (DSCU) has the jurisdiction to investigate the most serious crimes alleged to have been committed by persons subject to service law in both the UK and overseas.

The unit, based in Southwick Park, replaces the existing Special Investigation Branches (SIB) and in its place forms an independent crime capability for Defence as part of its commitment to reforming the Service Justice System (SJS). This includes implementing the recommended changes to improve the experience for victims, who will be at the heart of the investigative process.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

This Unit is a step change to improving the quality and capability of the Armed Forces to investigate serious crimes. Fully independent, it will create a critical mass of experience and personnel to ensure our investigations are thorough, high quality and timely.

Lieutenant General James Swift, Chief of Defence People said:

All members of the Armed Forces should have the confidence to report a crime and know that it will be fully investigated.

The Defence Serious Crime Unit becoming operational today will be completely independent of the Chain of Command. This will give our Service men and women reassurance that their concerns will be taken seriously, investigated independently and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Colonel Mark John, Provost Marshal (Serious Crime) said:

This marks a significant improvement for Defence Policing and an opportunity we have seized. We have taken onboard key learnings, best practice and insight from civilian police forces to ensure that victims are central to the investigation. We will continue to work closely with a wide array of partners to maximise the effectiveness of this unit.

The new unit will deliver a more effective policing service staffed by officers trained to the same standard as their civilian counterparts.

All DSCU investigators will be sexual offences investigator trained as standard; special investigators will be sent on the Sexual Offences Liaison Officers courses delivered by the College of Policing, as well as to the Family Liaison Officers Course, the Senior Investigating Officers Course and the Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) interview course.

The unit operates as part of the DSCC which was established in April this year and will also see a new Victim and Witness Care Unit (VWCU) being set up. This will ensure victim care is central to every stage of the investigative and judicial process. This has been done in consultation with specialist external organisations, such as the Survivors Trust and the office of the Victims Commissioner and is expected to be fully operational in early 2023.

The DSCU is further proof that the SJS is fit for purpose, as recognised in the judge led ‘Henriques Review’ in 2020. The SJS will continue to support and provide justice for our personnel wherever they are in the world, which isn’t possible in the civilian justice system. All of this has been implemented alongside work to raise awareness of sexual offending, reporting mechanisms and implications to ensure that service personnel know that they will be believed and that we will act upon any allegation of an offence.

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