26 Jul 2019

New rules announced to address inappropriate conduct in the armed forces

Penny Mordaunt has announced new rules to address the problem of inappropriate conduct in the armed forces.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced the new guidelines which will implement changes in culture to fight inappropriate conduct and improve conditions for personnel. A new report found that while the vast majority of personnel behaved as expected there was still an unacceptable number of cases regarding poor conduct.

Penny Mordaunt aims to implement a change in culture by those responsible for everyday discipline and a change in the complaints system. Serious allegations will be investigated quickly and from outside the chain of command if necessary.

Penny Mordaunt said: “Whether it is crude comments, discriminatory treatment, or even offences of a sexual nature, inappropriate behaviour has no place in society, let alone in our armed forces.”

“This report sends a clear message and I am committed to ensuring its recommendations are delivered in full.”

“In addition to the report, I want to ensure non-commissioned officers are able to address poor behaviour when they see it. They are the moral compass of the Armed Forces.”

A review commissioned in April and conducted by Air Marshal Michael Wigston examined what reforms were needed after a number of allegations of inappropriate conduct. One key recommendation which will be included in reforms is the formation of a ‘Defence Authority’ to share best practices across the armed forces and ensure that reforms are being put in place as promised.

A hotline will also allow anonymous complaints as well as an app and new website forms. Allegations such as bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination can be reported more easily based on systems already in use in the US and Canada.

The report outline 36 recommendations to correct and prevent misconduct. It identified those in leadership roles as responsible for ensuring that such behaviour can be reduced, as well as new performance standards.

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