The programme, entitled ‘Cadet Abuse Cover Up’ will include interviews with victims who claim that senior cadet leaders covered up allegations of abuse and put pressure on cadets and their families not to report abuse to the police.
The BBC has discovered through Freedom of Information requests that 363 current and non-recent sexual abuse allegations have been made in relation to the Army, Air and Sea Cadets over the last five years. Of these, 282 cases have been referred to the police and 99 volunteers have been dismissed.
The seven-month investigation by Panorama focuses on non-recent abuse by cadet leaders mainly in Glasgow, Birmingham and Hertfordshire.
The Air, Sea and Army cadets are overseen by the Ministry of Defence and currently have around 130,000 members.
The MoD told Panorama that today all adults who work with children undergo mandatory security and background checks, rigorous disclosure procedures and regular safeguard training. They added that they would encourage anyone who has been a victim of or has knowledge of abuse to report it to the police.
The Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC) added: "We now have a zero-tolerance protocol and a specialist team to enforce our policies and provide support."
“As a former, longstanding member of Sea Cadets I am aware of the safeguarding protocols and procedures that were in place to protect children. It is therefore shocking to learn that some cadets and families have reportedly been dissuaded from speaking to the appropriate authorities, allowing some of the alleged perpetrators to evade criminal justice and even have continued access to children.
“That sexual abuse is alleged to have been ‘hidden in plain sight’ within cadet forces is abhorrent, and particularly in an environment in which children are routinely taught to obey the orders of their superiors.
“This new scandal once again highlights the need for legislation enforcing the mandatory reporting of the safeguarding concerns of any adults working in close proximity with children.”
Anyone who is affected by this story should contact the police, or charities for victims of abuse such as NAPAC.