Ben Wallace in Downing Street
Politics

Defence Secretary: MOD 'Not Done Well Enough' Over BAME Issues

Ben Wallace said the upcoming defence review is an oppurtunuity to “reset” the department's "woeful" record over BAME issues.

Ben Wallace in Downing Street

The Defence Secretary has said the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has "not done well enough" in tackling issues facing black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups.

Ben Wallace said the military has "not recruited enough people" from a BAME background and that it has not been a "welcoming place for enough people".

Figures released in the Service Complaints Ombudsman 2019 annual report for the Armed Forces found that BAME personnel were disproportionately lodging complaints about discrimination.

It found BAME service personnel were more than twice as likely to complain about bullying, harassment or discrimination than white personnel. 

In an interview with Politics Home, Mr Wallace described the figures as "woeful". 

He said the upcoming major defence and foreign policy review is “a great opportunity” to address those issues.

“From a purely selfish point of view, by not having more BAME personnel, not having more women, we are losing the opportunity to have some great talent," Mr Wallace said.

"So it's really, really important that this is stopped, crushed, got rid of, and we have to double our efforts.”

Silhouetted anonymous Royal Marines embarked on board HMS Queen Elizabeth doing fast rope training
Mr Wallace said the upcoming defence review offers the chance to "reset" (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Integrated Review had been promised to be the largest of its kind "since the end of the Cold War" but has since been put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is not expected to start until 2021.

Last week, the head of the UK Armed Forces said the military "must force the pace" it tackles racism and inappropriate behaviour.

Cover image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Picture: PA).