§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps is he taking to counter bullying among members of the armed forces.
§ Mr. Soames
My Department takes a very serious view of bullying and it has been made clear throughout the services that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
Measures taken to counter bullying include the publication in July 1994 of the Navy's policy throughout the fleet to remind all ranks that there is an effective policy to deal with bullying. Officers and senior ratings were advised to be alert to the possibility of bullying, and victims were reminded of their rights of complaint.
The Army has banned initiation ceremonies and has established additional posts in its training organisations to allow officers and non-commissioned officers to devote more time to their supervisory role. In 1993, the Army published a discipline and standards paper which included instructions to counter bullying.
The Royal Air Force published a policy letter on bullying and initiation ceremonies in 1989, and similar letters were published in 1992 and 1994. The Royal Air Force produces orders to be read and signed annually by officers and non-commissioned officers which specifically cover bullying. The Royal Air Force's policy on bullying and initiation ceremonies is repeated in quarterly standing orders which all personnel are required to read.