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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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Flogging in the Royal Navy by Gabe Christy


I came across an article on this site, it can be found at: How the Royal Navy kept order, Through Caning, Flogging, and Hanging Nov 1, 2016 Gabe Christy.

It states the following in the article:


Finally outlawed in 1806, flogging as a general practice, though, was not suspended in peacetime until 1881.

Even now, it is still technically not completely removed from possible punishments."

When the author says: Finally outlawed in 1806" they are referring to the practice of "flogging around the fleet" whereby offenders in port could be taken to multiple ships and flogged at each ship taken to.


My question is, on what basis does the author state that flogging in general is not absolutely banned and could theoretically by employed under some circumstance? Not that it's likely to actually happen, just that it in theory could happen.

I took a look at the Royal navy regulations on discipline at:


I didn't see anything therein relating to flogging, in peacetime nor during a state of war.


As anyone who understands Naval justice at sea can tell you, through history and even today when a commander imposes summary discipline, the accused is allowed to make a statement in their defense to show why the proscribed sanction should be mitigated. At that point assuming the allocution from the accused failed to persuade the officer to change their mind as to the sanction, the "articles of war" would be read to the accused and those present, for deterrent effect I would imagine.

So maybe the claim by the author is based on something in the Articles of War. The articles were codified into statute in 1957 under: Naval Discipline Act

Page 16 of the PDF lists available penalties and there is no mention of corporal discipline there. The only reference I see to it can be found on the PDF page 41 which states: 


(2) Naval Detention Quarters Rules shall not authorize the -cont. infliction of corporal punishment."

Granted this is referring to detention facilities where offenders are imprisoned, but if the singular mention of physical discipline is to prohibit it, it doesn't sound like its referring to something theoretically allowed.


Now the 1957 act was largely replaced in 2006 by: 

Armed Forces Act 2006

This is also devoid of anything that could potentially be used to claim flogging is still technically legal in some cases.

The only theory I can think of would be if there was an unwritten common law principle allowing Naval officers to impose corporal discipline and that would require a specific act of Parliament to explicitly revoke the common law powers inherently bestowed to Navy Officers by virtue of their rank. I don't know if there is such a rule or not its just the only possibility I see.

Thank you for reading and if you have knowledge of this are please let me know.

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