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UK

British Military Urged To Do More To Tackle Racism

The independent Service Complaints Ombudsman has called upon the Ministry of Defence to do more to combat racism in the Armed Forces.

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The independent Service Complaints Ombudsman has called upon the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to do more to tackle racism in the Armed Forces.

The watchdog, which oversees complaints in the Armed Forces, has urged the MOD to do more to tackle racism.

Nicola Williams, from the independent Service Complaints Ombudsman, told the BBC that reports of racist incidents in the military were becoming increasingly frequent.

Ms Williams' comments follow a number of high profile cases in which soldiers have taken legal action against the Army.

She told the BBC: "Incidents of racism are occurring with increasing and depressing frequency."

"The issue needs to be tackled," she added.

Figures released by the MOD reveal that 12.1% of the Army's personnel are Black, Asian and Minority Ethnicities (BAME).

For the Royal Navy and Royal Marines it stands at 4.2%, while Royal Air Force has 2.7% BAME personnel.

The proportion of BAME personnel has increased across the services since last year, the Army was at 11.2%, Royal Marines/Royal Navy at 4% and the Royal Air Force at 2.4%.

Ms Williams said: "If you're a young person and you're thinking about a career in the Armed Forces, one of the things that might encourage you or discourage you is to look up the ranks and see if there's anybody further up the ranks that looks like you - that also includes women as well.

"I think what people want to see, above all, is any young black or Asian person, that is joining the Armed Forces, they want to be able to think that they can go as far as their talent and potential will allow them to," she said.

The figures further show that women make up to 10.8% of the overall number of personnel serving across the three services - it means that out of 144,650 personnel, 15,650 are women.

"There are women in senior positions in the Armed Forces but not nearly enough," Ms Williams said.

The MOD said in a statement: "Racism has no place in the military and anyone found to be behaving in such a way can expect to be disciplined, discharged or dismissed.

"We are committed to stamping it out and have a range of measures to ensure that this issue is tackled.

"This includes creating a new team to deal more quickly and effectively with complaints by service personnel of racism, shifting the culture of the armed forces so that everyone feels included, with even more emphasis on stronger leadership action and improved education and training.

"Earlier this year we published the Wigston report to further address inappropriate behaviour in the Armed Forces."

Cover image: PA.

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