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A new helpline providing support for Service personnel experiencing or witnessing bullying, harassment or discrimination has been set up by the Ministry of Defence to clamp down on instances of unacceptable behaviour in the Armed Forces.

 

The helpline, which will go live in September, will be staffed 24/7 by trained bullying, harassment and discrimination advisers and qualified counsellors, who will provide emotional support, information and guidance to callers.

 

Individuals will be able to report incidents anonymously to independent advisers and seek help on how to take issues forward, including through local support networks or the service complaints system, where necessary.

 

Establishing the bullying and harassment helpline was one of the key recommendations of Air Chief Marshal Wigston’s review into behaviour across defence that was published last year. The report found that while the majority of personnel behave appropriately, there is still an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in the military. Thirty-six recommendations were made as part of the report, all of which have been accepted by the Ministry of Defence.

 

To evaluate the success of current measures and ensure progress continues to be made at speed, an independent review of Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) anti-bullying work will be led by Danuta Gray, a Non-Executive Board Member and Chair of the People Committee at the MOD. In this role she has overseen processes for managing the careers of senior military officers and senior civil servants, with a specific focus on behaviour and incentives across Defence. The review will commence on the first anniversary of the Wigston review (Wednesday 15 July 2020) and will run for approximately 3 months.

 

Read the government’s press release here

 

Uploaded on: 2nd September, 2020

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt has announced a range of measures to tackle inappropriate behaviour in the Armed Forces.

 

Measures planned include instilling a shift in culture, led by those responsible for managing day-to-day discipline, as well as overhauling the complaints system so the most serious allegations are investigated quickly and, if appropriate, outside the chain of command. New training and reporting will also be implemented.

 

The announcement follows the publication of a review into inappropriate behaviour in the Forces, conducted by Air Marshal Michael Wigston. Prompted by a number of allegations, the review was designed to analyse Service culture and make recommendations on further action, and the Naval Families Federation was invited to contribute first-hand evidence of the effects of inappropriate behaviours on Naval families to add to the overall picture.

 

The report found that while good behaviour was the norm and Service personnel could by and large be trusted to behave appropriately, there is still an unacceptable level of inappropriate behaviour in the military. A key recommendation was the creation of a new Defence Authority, which will provide centralised oversight on how the recommendations are delivered and share best practice across Defence.

 

It will also have a role in investigating allegations such as sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. This change to the complaints system is to ensure the most serious allegations are dealt with quickly and personnel have confidence to step forward – an approach based on similar systems which have proved successful in the Canadian, Australian and American Armed Forces. There will be new ways to  anonymously report inappropriate behaviour through the creation of a hotline, a phone-based app and website forms. The Authority will also be the central point for the coordination of policy relating to inappropriate behaviour, as well as sharing best practice across Defence.

 

To address this, the MOD aims to embed a new culture and set of standards across the Services, including mandatory diversity and inclusion training and a new harassment survey, to be conducted in 2021, that will track data on the culture change across Defence.

 

Chief of Defence Staff Gen Sir Nick Carter and MOD Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove have written to all senior commanders to update them on the review and stress the importance of implementing its findings, and the respective heads of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF are also writing to all staff on the outcome of the review.

 

A copy of the full report can be found here.

 

Posted on: 18th July, 2019