§ Mr. Denis Murphy
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if a standard procedure is followed when a person goes absent without leave from the armed forces. 
§ Mr. Spellar
Each of the Services follows a set procedure when a person goes absent without leave, although there are slight differences of detail between the Services. After initial investigations by commanding officers to establish cases of absence, in all three Services it is standard procedure to inform the absentee's local police force, the Central Criminal Records and Information Office, and the Services' own internal provost, administrative and manning staffs of the absence. The three Services' procedures differ slightly regarding the time allowed to elapse before formal reporting proceedings commence. In the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force a period of seven days is allowed to elapse before formal reporting proceedings commence, whereas in the case of an Army absentee, formal reporting action is carried out immediately.