New Anti-Bullying Helpline To Tackle Poor Behaviour In Armed Forces

The helpline will go live in September and be staffed 24/7 by trained and qualified staff.

A new helpline set up by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to support Armed Forces personnel experiencing or witnessing bullying, harassment or discrimination will go live in September.

It will be staffed 24/7 by trained advisers and qualified counsellors.

Individuals will be able to anonymously report incidents and receive advice on how to proceed with any issues they have.

Jonny Mercer, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, said the helpline will "allow personnel to report incidents in a safe and secure environment".

"By staffing the helpline with trained advisors and counsellors outside of the chain of command, we will ensure concerns are dealt with quickly and professionally," he said.

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

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

The review will start exactly a year on from the Wigston review - 15 July - and it will run for approximately three months.

"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," Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.

"There is simply no place for bullying or harassment in our Armed Forces and I’m determined to stamp this out."

Since the publication of the Wigston Review, a dedicated team has been established to oversee progress against the recommendations.

All personnel will also have the opportunity to undertake 'active bystander' training to make sure inappropriate behaviour is recognised by everyone.

Updated guidance on sexual harassment will also be circulated around the Armed Forces to help personnel understand what is sexual harassment and what actions they can take if they witness or experience it.

The MOD said each branch of the Armed Forces has also taken action to promote a more inclusive culture.

The Army has trained personnel as 'Allies' to the perspectives of minority groups, the Royal Navy has introduced new mandatory behaviour training and the RAF has organised special mentoring programmes.

A Senior Responsible Officer has been appointed in each service to closely track progress.

Cover image: British Army.