Armed Forces: Sexual Offences

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 4th November 2021.

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Photo of Dan Jarvis Dan Jarvis Labour, Barnsley Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made in the increase in the number of (a) sexual harassment and (b) rape complaints from girls under the age of 18 in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Allegations of rape made by female Service personnel under the age of 18 increased from one case in 2016 to two cases in 2021. Service Complaints alleging sexual harassment from within the same group decreased from one case to zero over the same period.

Sexual offending is not tolerated in the Armed Forces, and anyone failing to meet the standards required will be dealt with robustly, including being subject to police investigations and dismissal. Earlier this year, I announced an intention to publish a Defence-wide strategy for dealing with rape and serious sexual offences in the Service Justice System (SJS). The strategy will aim to reduce the prevalence and impact of rape and other serious sexual offending in the Armed Forces and improve the handling of those cases in the SJS.

The Ministry of Defence continues to tackle unacceptable behaviour. We are implementing the recommendations from the Wigston Review into inappropriate behaviour, and those made in the 2020 progress review led by Danuta Gray, which concluded that good progress had been made.

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