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Tri-Service

Military's 24/7 Anti-Bullying Helpline Officially Launches

The confidential helpline will be staffed by trained advisors with the aim of ensuring concerns are dealt with "quickly and appropriately".

Anonymous British soldier

A confidential helpline has officially launched to provide support for personnel experiencing or witnessing bullying, harassment or discrimination in the Armed Forces.

Set up by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and employee support organisation Health Assured, the helpline is staffed 24/7 by trained and qualified counsellors.

It was first announced earlier this summer.

The advisors answering calls to the service are independent from the military chain of command and will provide emotional support, information and guidance to callers.

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

The MOD says serious action will be taken where there are reported incidents of unacceptable behaviours.

According to Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer, the aim of the service is to ensure concerns are dealt with "quickly and appropriately".

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Defence works best as one team, working together to achieve the same aims, and treating those around us with dignity and respect.

"There is no place for bullying, harassment or discrimination in any corner of defence, and this helpline is a critical step towards stamping out unacceptable behaviour."

Establishing the helpline was one of the 36 recommendations within Air Chief Marshal Wigston’s review into behaviour across the Armed Forces, which was published last July.

All recommendations were accepted by the MOD and an independent review will evaluate the success of any implemented measures.

A dedicated team has been established with an initial focus on updating policies and infrastructure for serving personnel to identify and report unacceptable behaviour at an earlier stage.

In addition, personnel will have the chance to receive 'active bystander' training, with the aim of ensuring as many people as possible can recognise inappropriate behaviour.

"Unacceptable behaviour has no place in defence and will not be tolerated," Johnny Mercer said.

"The new helpline offers even more support for personnel across defence."

The helpline number is 0800 783 0334 and is free to call.

Cover image: MOD.