Our risk as­sess­ment failed to pre­vent these three young men dy­ing

North Wales Weekly News - - NEWS - BY MATTHEW COOPER

ASE­NIOR spe­cial forces of­fi­cer has told the in­quest into the death of a North Wales re­servist and two oth­ers that a risk as­sess­ment con­ducted dur­ing an SAS test march was “not suf­fi­ciently good” to pre­vent the deaths of the three men.

Soldier AA, an as­sis­tant chief of staff over­see­ing mem­bers of the Army re­serve, also said he had been un­able to fully in­ves­ti­gate the deaths be­cause of a crim­i­nal in­quiry.

Lance Cor­po­ral Craig Rob- erts, 24, from Pen­rhyn Bay, Lance Cor­po­ral Ed­ward Ma­her and Cor­po­ral James Dunsby all died af­ter col­laps­ing due to heat stress on the Bre­con Bea­cons on July 13 2013.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence anony­mously to the fourth week of the in­quest into all three deaths, of­fi­cer AA claimed a generic risk as­sess­ment pre­pared be­fore the march had been ac­cept­able.

But he con­ceded that there had been a “se­ri­ous er­ror” on the day of the march and that the dy­namic as­sess­ment of sol­diers’ safety con­ducted by com­man­ders on July 13 had failed.

Speak­ing from a spe­cially con­structed wit­ness box shield­ing him from view, AA said of some march di­rect­ing staff: “We or­gan­i­sa­tion­ally have failed to give them ei­ther the knowl­edge or the un­der­stand­ing (of heat ill­ness) that was re­quired.

“The most likely cause of the peo­ple plan­ning and ex­e­cut­ing the ex­er­cise not know­ing the full pro­vi­sions (of MoD heat ill­ness guid­ance) is that their un­der­stand­ing had re­lied very much on self-learn­ing or the cour­ses that they had pre­vi­ously run, and ex­pe­ri­ence that they gained on them.”

Of­fi­cer AA added: “The dy­namic risk as­sess­ment that hap­pened on the day failed and was not suf­fi­ciently good to pre­vent these three young men dy­ing.”

It also emerged dur­ing AA’s ev­i­dence that test marches were not “recom­menced” un­til a Health and Safety Ex­ec­u­tive im­prove­ment no­tice served on the MoD in Oc­to­ber 2014 had been com­plied with.

De­scrib­ing con­tact with the HSE as ex­tremely help­ful, AA told the in­quest: “We take the safety of our sol­diers very se­ri­ously.

“We try very hard to make the en­vi­ron­ment as safe as pos­si­ble for our stu­dents to op­er­ate within.

“We are im­mensely grate­ful to those who have been able to in­ves­ti­gate and point out our short­com­ings.”

Ac­tion had since been taken to make the sys­tem safer for spe­cial forces can­di­dates, AA said, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive train­ing to en­sure com­pli­ance with the HSE im­prove­ment no­tice.

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