Anti-bullying helpline to be set up for armed service personnel

A helpline has been set up for service personnel to try to “stamp out” unacceptable behaviour in the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence has announced.

Personnel who experience or witness bullying, harassment or discrimination will be able to contact the 24-hour helpline staffed7 by trained advisers and qualified counsellors.

It comes after Britain’s most senior military officer said the armed forces had to clamp down on the “laddish culture” responsible for driving out talented female and minority ethnic personnel.

People can usie the helpline – which will go live in September – to anonymously report incidents and seek help about how to deal with problems, the MoD said.

“Active bystander” training will also be made available, encouraging individuals in all ranks who see unacceptable comments or actions to take a role in intervening, reporting or addressing it.

And updated guidance on sexual harassment will be circulated around the forces to advise personnel on what they can do if they experience or witness harassment.

Gen Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the defence staff, said unacceptable behaviour that undoubtedly pushed out female and minority ethnic personnel needed to be stamped out.

Giving evidence to the Commons defence committee on Tuesday, he said it was unacceptable that the forces had failed to “move the dial” on the issue.

A review published last year concluded that the forces were led by a “pack of middle-aged white men”, resulting in unacceptable levels of bullying, sexism and racist behaviour.

The report, by Air Chief Marshal Michael Wigston, was commissioned after a 17-year-old female soldier was allegedly sexually assaulted by six male personnel.

READ  Sketch writing feels impossible in the age of Dom and Dommer | John Crace

Thirty-six recommendations were made as part of the report, all of which have been accepted by the MoD.

An independent review will be led by Danuta Gray, a non-executive defence board member and chair of the people committee, to ensure progress continues to be made.

The review will begin on 15 July, the first anniversary of the Wigston report, and is expected to run for about three months.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said: “Our personnel selflessly serve our nation day in and day out, and they deserve to be treated equally, with dignity and respect, both on and off duty.

“There is simply no place for bullying or harassment in our armed forces and I’m determined to stamp this out.

“Our anti-bullying helpline is an important next step and I will continue to seek the change in behaviour we need to see across defence.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here