Young Sandhurst recruits exploited by military instructors will be protected from being taken advantage of, under new plans to imprison anyone found guilty of engaging in relationships with cadets.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has authored the plans, which would see a new law instituted aimed at stopping trainers pursuing arrivals at the military academy.
This comes in the wake of the suicide of Olivia Perks, who was found dead in February 2019.
Ms Perks had been involved in a secret relationship with a Sandhurst gym instructor prior to her death.
According to an inquiry into the death of the 21-year-old, she was let down by military bosses and she suffered a “complete breakdown in welfare support”.
Express.co.uk previously reported a witness at the inquiry, who was present on the night that Ms Perks attempted to harm herself, said she considered the incident “to be a serious suicide attempt.”
“I believe if I left her in the room unattended that night (Olivia) would have killed herself”, she said.
Ms Perks explained her behaviour in a letter, putting it down to a “combination of alcohol and past events in my life.”
However, the inquiry said it saw “no evidence that the past events in her life that she wrote of, were investigated or that she was offered specialist counselling to assist her with those wider issues”.
Mr Wallace is keen to get the new legislation passed before the next General Election in 2024, as the charity Salute Her UK claims Sandhurst is riddled with a “toxic culture” of sexual assaults, according to The Telegraph.
Defence sources told the newspaper that although categorising relationships between cadets and instructors as a sackable offence would deter “99 per cent” of cases, the Defence Secretary hoped criminal repercussions would act as “the last brick in the wall.”
Salute Her UK claims that over twenty years, 177 women have asked for help after being subjected to abuse at Sandhurst.
Paula Edwards, the boss of the charity, said that of the more than 3,000 women on its system, over half had been raped whilst in the Armed Forces.
“I can think of at least five other stand-out cases at Sandhurst in the last couple of years, since the death of Olivia Perks”, Ms Edwards said.
“So I don’t think enough has been done to change the culture there”, she continued.
“Even in the last 24 hours, ten women have contacted me about mistreatment in military workplaces. The scale of the problem is huge.”
“Young recruits deserve to be treated with respect, not taken advantage of”, an MoD spokesman said.
“That is why the Armed Forces has a zero-tolerance approach to sexual assault and any allegations reported will be investigated, with immediate action taken.
The spokesman continued: “The Defence Secretary is bidding for new legislation that would make it a formal offence in military law for those found guilty of sexual relationships with new recruits, potentially resulting in court martial and a custodial sentence.”
For the new law to get the green light, both Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak need to approve it.