Armed Forces: Offences against Children

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 19th May 2022.

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Photo of Dave Doogan Dave Doogan Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence Procurement)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, with reference to the Answer of 26 April 2022 to Question 154397 on Armed Forces: Offences against Children, what new measures are being put in place to protect young recruits from sexual assault in the Army Foundation College.

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

The Ministry of Defence and the Army have a Zero Tolerance attitude towards sexual offending in the training environment. In March 2022 The Secretary of Sate for Defence announced that Sexual offences and sexual relationships between instructors and trainees have no place in Defence, or wider society, and a zero-tolerance approach will ensure our commitment to providing a better working environment for our serving personnel is met. We are sending a clear message that the women and men of the Armed Forces must uphold our values and standards

The Army Foundation College has comprehensive measures in place to ensure a safe working environment. This is represented by Junior Soldiers' ability to raise issues or concerns in any of three ways (1) to the Military Chain of Command, (2) in person to the Independent Advisory Panel or (3) via an anonymous reporting tool to the Independent Advisory Panel. All Recruits are well briefed on the multiple methods of raising concerns; all issues raised are taken seriously and are investigated by the appropriate agency be that Civilian Police, Service Police, or the Chain of Command. Junior Soldiers are also surveyed on their experiences during their time at the AFC through the Recruit Training Survey.

AFC maintains a Supervisory Care and Safeguarding Directive which is updated on an annual basis. This Directive ensures we have immediate safeguarding mechanisms in place such as appropriate supervision, impartial assurance mechanisms, and easily accessible welfare outlets.

AFC(H) was marked as Outstanding in 2021 by Ofsted. Ofsted found that "The chief instructor, as the designated safeguarding lead, has a very good understanding of safeguarding. He is a member of the North Yorkshire Children's Safeguarding Partnership. He uses his extensive links with partner agencies to make sure that the few safeguarding incidents that are reported are investigated thoroughly and the recruits involved get the help, support and guidance they need."

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