4 July 2017
Brigadier Matthew Lowe, Deputy Commander Cadets, writes:
The cadet forces have been the subject of a BBC Panorama investigation into child safeguarding matters and sexual abuse.
Dealing with such subject matter is unquestionably difficult and challenging but as the Deputy Commander responsible for the safe delivery and assurance of the Army Cadet Force I have a responsibility to inform everyone associated with the organisations of what I know about the programme and to reinforce how seriously we take the safety and well-being of our Cadets. The same message is being conveyed to the Combined Cadet Force and by my colleagues responsible for the RAF’s Air Cadets and the Marine Society and Sea Cadets.
Child abuse is an abhorrent crime. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of young people enjoy cadet activities without ever experiencing any form of abuse or bullying. The Army Cadet Force does not tolerate abuse and bullying and we have clear policies and practices to defend against it. We seek to create a culture that encourages adults and cadets to speak up, confront and disclose any concerns and we take tremendous pride in the trust young people place in us to support them.
Some of the cases in the programme feature former adult volunteers. While a number of these allegations and incidents took place over 30 years ago, some individuals were not reported and convicted until years later. Our effective cooperation with the police and local authorities ensures offenders are brought to justice and young people are protected from harm. We will always follow due process and bring individuals to account irrespective of when an allegation is brought to somebody’s attention. Allegations could be brought to the attention of another adult volunteer, the police and/or an organisation such as the NSPCC. Our safeguarding process is founded on this principle and we pride ourselves in the trust young people and their parents and guardians place in us.
If anyone ever believes they may have been a victim of child abuse, or knows somebody who has, they should report it to the police for investigation. Where an individual feels unable to discuss a concern with an adult volunteer or member of ACF staff they or their parents/guardians should be encouraged to contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. The NSPCC are aware of the Panorama broadcast and they can assist at any time of the day or night, whether now or in the future.
All of our Adult Volunteers undergo enhanced disclosure checks, mandatory background and security checks and annual mandatory safeguarding training. Unlike many youth organisations, our disclosure checks are repeated every 5 years. Our safeguarding policies are also reviewed regularly and independently audited and are always available to cadets, parents, guardians, and adult volunteers.
I sincerely hope that this note assures everyone associated with the Army Cadet Force, both now and in the future, of the commitment the Army has towards Safeguarding and Child Protection. We are determined to do all we can to ensure that young people are listened to and protected during their time with us in order to keep every child safe from harm.
Brigadier Matthew Lowe MBE
Deputy Commander Cadets, HQ Regional Command