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Charges Against Petty Officers.

28 Sep., 1912
The Admiralty issued yesterday their promised circular letter to all commanders-in-chief, flag officers, and commanding officers of his Majesty's ships at home and abroad on the subject of the investigation of charges against chief petty officers and petty officers [No. 36] :.

Admiralty, S.W., 27th September, 1912.

My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have decided that the following procedure is to be adopted whenever a Chief Petty Officer or Petty Officer is charged with an offence which, if proved, would render him liable to disrating.

2. A formal and public investigation is to be held by the Captain, a careful summary of the evidence of the witnesses for and against being made at the time in such a way that it can be incorporated in Form S. 270 in due course, if necessary.

3. During this investigation the accused is to have the assistance of an Officer belonging to the ship to act as his friend and help him in stating his case, in the same manner as if he were being tried by Court Martial, the necessary facilities being afforded. It is anticipated that this duty will usually be undertaken by the Officer of his Division, who from personal knowledge of the individual should be in a better position than any one else to help him, but there is no objection to another Officer belonging to the ship being entrusted with the duty if specially desired by the accused.

4. At the conclusion the Captain should, if he thinks it a case which deserves disrating, inform the accused that he can, if he desires it, be tried by Court Martial, and he is to give him not less than 24 hours for the purpose of reflection, informing him at the same time that a rate taken away by sentence of Court Martial cannot be regained without first submitting it to the Admiralty for approval, but that the usual authority, i.e., the Commodore of the Depot or the Commanding Officer, as the case may be, would have the power to restore in the case of disrating by Warrant.

5. If the accused after the specified period indicates that he does not wish to be tried by Court Martial, and the Captain decides that disrating is the appropriate punishment, the necessary steps are to be taken to obtain the approval of the Flag Officer whose Flag is flying to whom reference can most conveniently be made, the Warrant being accompanied by Form S. 270, on which each of the witnesses is to sign the summary of the evidence he has given. If such approval cannot be obtained within a reasonable period, the Captain may formulate the sentence himself, reporting the circumstances without delay to the Commander-in-Chief or Senior Officer of the Squadron.

6. Should the accused elect to be tried by Court Martial, the necessary steps for that purpose are to be taken.

7. Should the exigencies of the Service, as in the case of a single ship on detached service, not permit a Court Martial to be assembled within a reasonable period the Senior Officer may, if he considers it necessary, direct the Captain to deal with the case summarily. If in these circumstances the Captain disrates a Chief Petty Officer or Petty Officer, the Senior Officer is to order a Court of Enquiry to assemble at the earliest possible date, and if their report indicates that a lighter punishment would have been sufficient, be is authorised to restore the rating from a date to be fixed by him. A report of the case, including the Minutes of the Enquiry, the Warrant and Form. S. 240 is to be forwarded to the Admiralty.

By Command of their Lordships,
W. Graham Greene

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