1890 - Deserters and Absentees - Revised Rules and Regulations

The Admiralty have amended the articles in the Queen's Regulations relating to desertion and absence without leave. Every effort is to be made to check desertion and straggling, and to detect and apprehend deserters or absentees without leave. Descriptions in the established form are to be distributed as may be directed by the Commanders-in-Chief, but at home one copy is invariably [to be sent by the captain to the chief constable of the deserter's or absentee's usual place of residence, if it is known, and also to any other place or places where he is likely to have gone.

The procedure to be followed in respect of arrest and subsequent disposal of deserters and absentees is governed by the provisions of section 9 of the Act 10 and 11 Vic., cap. 62, and by section 50 of the Naval Discipline Act. Under the first of those statutes, any person arrested on suspicion of being a deserter or absentee from her Majesty's Navy shall be taken and charged before a magistrate, and by him either (a) committed to prison pending inquiry as to his identity, and afterwards, should such identity be proved, handed over to naval custody, or (b) committed direct to naval custody on board any one of her Majesty's ships.

In either case, after the offender has been delivered into naval custody he may be dealt with under the Naval Discipline Act. If arrested on naval warrant, the deserter or absentee may be received direct into naval custody and dealt with under the Naval Discipline Act, but no deserter or absentee who has not been arrested under such warrant shall be received from the police or from any other person, unless such deserter or absentee has first been charged before a magistrate.

A deserter or absentee who voluntarily surrenders himself to naval authority may be dealt with under the Naval Discipline act, though no warrant for his arrest may have been issued, and without charging him before a magistrate. Any person who voluntarily confesses may, unless he surrenders himself into naval custody, either (a) be taken before a magistrate, and by him be delivered into naval custody, or (b) be arrested on a warrant under section 50 and delivered direct into naval custody.

In either case, however, the question whether he is or is not a deserter or absentee must be duly investigated by naval authority, and for that purpose he may be detained for a reasonable time, when, if his confession of desertion or absence without leave shall be found not to be true, then he cannot be punished at all under the Naval Discipline Act, but he may either (a) be received and detained in her Majesty's Navy, or (b) if not received into her Majesty's Navy, he may, on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace be adjudged to be punished, if in England, as a rogue and vagabond, and if is Scotland or Ireland by commitment to prison, there to be kept to hard labour for any time not exceeding three months.

When any deserter or absentee, whether delivered into naval custody by order of a magistrate, or by a warrant issued under section 50 of the Naval Discipline Act, or by voluntary surrender, shall be brought before the commanding officer of any one of her Majesty's ships to be dealt with summarily his case is to be thoroughly investigated and a note taken in writing of the proceedings. The prisoner is at the same time to be formally asked if he has any statement to make, and such statement, if made, is to be signed by the prisoner and duly witnessed ; and the accuracy of any such statement is to be carefully tested before the case is finally disposed of. No reward is to be paid for the apprehension of any commissioned, warrant, or subordinate officer without the sanction of the Admiralty at home, or commander-in-chief, or senior officer present, abroad.

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