MP's concerns over increase in injuries at Northumberland MoD ranges

Private Conor McPherson
Private Conor McPherson
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New figures show a steep rise in the number of reported injuries at the MoD's training ranges at Otterburn.

They follow concerns raised by Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan after the death of a solider on the ranges last month.

Private Conor McPherson, 24, of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland, died while taking part in a night live firing exercise on August 23. An investigation into his death is currently being carried out.

Mrs Trevelyan tabled a written Parliamentary question to the Ministry of Defence to ask how many non-fatal accidents had been reported at Otterburn ranges since the last set of figures were released in 2007.

The response demonstrated a steep rise in the number of reported incidents, up from 54 in 2014-15 to 119 last year. Between April 1, 2008, and June 30 this year, a total of 357 personnel were reported injured. The figures include regular personnel, as well as reservists, cadets and civilians.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the figure can be partly explained by an improvement in reporting of accidents, and by increased usage of the ranges.

Mrs Trevelyan said of 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.

"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(DSA) 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."