A military training camp where a Scots soldier was accidentally killed last month saw more than 100 other accidents where soldiers were injured last year.
New figures from the Ministry of Defence show 119 personnel were injured at the Otterburn training ground in Northumberland over the past 12 months – more than double the previous year’s total.
Private Conor McPherson, 24, from the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, died after suffering a serious head wound while taking part in a night live-firing exercise at Otterburn in August. And these latest figures cast fresh doubts on safety at the 93 square mile site. The figure of 119 injuries in 2015/16 compares with 54 and 58 respectively in the previous two years.
Back in 2011/12 just 18 injuries were recorded at Otterburn. Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said more injuries were now being reported, while more exercises were also taking place at Otterburn.
Berwick-upon-Tweed Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who has Otterburn in her constituency, uncovered the figures via a written question to the department. And she said she was “deeply concerned” by the findings.
“Following the tragic death of a soldier during a live firing exercise last month, I was concerned to find out whether we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety of our armed forces when they are training on the Otterburn Ranges,” she told Press Association.
“I am deeply concerned by the fact that the number of injuries more than doubled last year and I will be calling for a meeting with the Defence Safety Authority to get a better understanding of the reasons for these injuries.
“The DSA was established in April 2015 to investigate such injuries and make recommendations to prevent further such occurrences – I want to know from them what will be done to reverse this worrying trend.”
In April the Unite union warned that firing ranges had become “death traps” since the role of lookout wardens, who prevent people walking into the line of fire, had been withdrawn.
Mr Lancaster said in a written response to Ms Trevelyan: “These totals may not include all injuries, as some minor injuries may have been treated immediately and not reported.
“Reporting of injuries is improving, and usage of the training area has increased since 2015.”