It has been reported in the British media that soldiers will no longer have to undergo “excessive” physical exercise or even be shouted at by an NCO as part of a punishment. Known as a “beasting”, the changes have come about following an inquest in to the death of Private Gavin Williams who died in 2006 during one such “beasting”.
The inquest concluded that Private Williams had died after being forced to do intensive exercise after turning up for duty intoxicated with a mix of alcohol and ecstasy and setting off a fire extinguisher at his Wiltshire Barracks. He had also been absent without leave and had missed guard duty. The “beasting” he received included lifting weights and undertaking a gym session with a physical training instructor during which he died. The inquest stated that the Army had let down Private Williams by not taking in to account his physical condition during the session.
Additionally, at the Army’s training centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire, it has been claimed that out-of-hours inspections, swearing and shouting in recruit’s faces has all been banned.
A number of observers have stated that the Army’s culture needs to change particularly when it comes to the treatment of new recruits going through training. There have been a number of fatalities in recent years during such training bringing the Army and the MoD’s health and safety procedures in to question. Traditionalists, however have argued that the new measures will go too far and soften the Army up.