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Armed Forces Act 2006

Offences against service justice
Section 27: Obstructing or failing to assist a service policeman

89.Each of the services have their own service police who are themselves members of the armed forces. The officers of the service police are called “provost officers”.

90.This section provides that persons subject to service law or civilians subject to service discipline may commit an offence if they obstruct, or fail to assist when called upon to do so, a service policeman carrying out his duties or a member of the armed forces acting under the authority of a provost officer (for example, an arrest under section 67 of the Act may be carried out by a person who is acting with a provost officer’s authority).

91.To be guilty of an offence under this section:

  • the obstruction or failure to assist must be intentional, and

  • the offender must know, or have reasonable cause to believe, that the person he obstructs or fails to assist is a service policeman or a person exercising authority on behalf of a provost officer.

Section 28: Resistance to arrest etc

92.Section 67 (which sets out the main power of arrest provided for in the Act) describes the manner in which an arrest can be carried out. Broadly speaking, under that section a person may simply be arrested, or (if he is a member of the armed forces) be ordered to regard himself as under arrest (and perhaps to report to a certain person or place). Section 28 applies to service personnel who:

  • disobey an order which requires them to succumb to arrest, or

  • use or threaten violence towards a person who has ordered them into arrest in the exercise of a power granted under the Act.

93.Section 28 also penalises service personnel or civilians subject to service discipline who use or threaten violence towards a person who has a duty to apprehend them, and who know or have reasonable cause to believe that the person has a duty to apprehend them. The expression “apprehend” applies both to an arrest (for the purpose of charging an offender or to prevent an offence) and other types of lawful detention, such as capturing an offender who has escaped from custody.

Section 29: Offences in relation to service custody

94.It is an offence for a member of the armed forces or a civilian subject to service discipline who is in lawful custody:

  • to escape, or

  • to use or threaten violence against a person in whose lawful custody he is (unless the offender has reasonable cause to believe that the custody is unlawful).

Section 30: Allowing escape, or unlawful release, of prisoners etc

95.It is an offence for a person subject to service law:

  • to allow (either intentionally, recklessly or negligently) the escape of a person in his charge, or whom it is his duty to guard, or

  • to release a person in his charge, when he has no reasonable cause to believe that he has authority to do so.

96.If the offender intentionally allows escape, or knows that he has no authority to make the release, the maximum penalty is ten years’ imprisonment. Otherwise the maximum penalty is two years.

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