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Sexual abuse of cadets ‘was covered up by officials’

The Ministry of Defence said it had “robust procedures in place to protect cadets”.

Cases of sexual abuse within the Ministry of Defence’s cadets were covered up, it has been reported.

An investigation by BBC Panorama reportedly found that officials had dissuaded victims from reporting allegations to the police.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said child abuse was an “abhorrent crime” and it has “robust procedures in place to protect cadets”.

The programme said it had spoken with former cadets who said they were abused in the 1980s.

When concerns were raised by some of the victims or their loved ones they were reportedly urged not to tell the police.

Rebecca Sheriff, of law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, which is representing victims, said: “A number of abuse cover-ups have been discovered within the organisation with devastating consequences upon victims which ought never to have occurred.

“It is hoped that the programme will encourage victims to come forward and disclose abuse that they have suffered in the cadets to the police so that criminal prosecutions can take place.”

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws showed that between 2012 and 2017 there was a total of 363 sexual abuse allegations made across the army, air and sea cadet forces, both historical and current.

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Allegations were made across the army, air and sea cadet forces (PA)

Of these 282 cases have been referred to the police and 99 instructors have been dismissed as a result of claims against them.

To date the MoD has paid out over £2 million to victims of the abuse, according to the programme.

The ministry said it has some 130,000 cadets within its divisions today.

Volunteer staff at all levels are subject to background checks and extra screening before they can take sole charge or responsible leadership of cadets.

The background checks on all 28,000 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers are redone every five years, while all undergo safeguarding training which is regularly updated, the MoD said.

A ministry spokesman said: “Child sexual abuse is an abhorrent crime, and we have robust procedures in place to protect cadets.

“This includes all adults who work with children undergoing mandatory security and background checks, rigorous disclosure procedures and regular safeguarding training. We encourage anyone who has been a victim, or knows someone who has, to report it to the police.”

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