Armed Forces: Harrassment

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 17th November 2021.

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Photo of Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Lord Campbell of Pittenweem Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Defence)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to eliminate (1) sexual harassment, (2) physical assault, and (3) bullying, suffered by female members of the armed forces.

Photo of Baroness Goldie Baroness Goldie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Unacceptable behaviour is not tolerated in the Armed Forces, and anyone failing to meet our values and standards will be dealt with robustly, including being subject to police investigations and dismissal where appropriate.

Defence is working to prevent and tackle all forms of unacceptable behaviour, including sexual harassment and bullying. In June 2021 we updated our policy on behaviour which sets out our expectations. We have issued an information booklet on sexual harassment, which includes guidance on how to recognise it and what to do if personnel experience, witness or wish to report it.

Mandatory training in the Armed Forces has been updated as recommended in the Wigston Review into inappropriate behaviour and we have introduced Active Bystander Training to equip people with the skills to intervene should they witness incidents. A training package is currently being developed to share the lived experience of all people within Defence more broadly. Defence is consistently communicating on matters related to culture and behaviour to drive change, using opportunities such as National Inclusion Week and Anti-Bullying Week to raise awareness.

Physical assault is likely to be a criminal offence – where any kind of physical assault is reported by individuals of any gender as a victim or witness, the Service Police will investigate it.

The forthcoming response to the HCDC Women in Defence report will deliver more detail on what work we are doing in Defence to improve the lived experience of women who serve.

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