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Bullying

Volume 124: debated on Wednesday 9 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many serious individual cases of bullying have been referred to his Department in the last year; and what is the total number of such cases which have been centrally recorded in the last 10 years.

13 serious individual cases of bullying which have resulted in court martial action have been referred to my Department in the past year. 11 of these have been in the Army and two in the Royal Marines.A number of other cases are still under investigation. The relative seriousness of these, and the disciplinary action appropriate, cannot be judged until such investigations are completed. It is not possible to give details of such cases over the past 10 years, as records of these cases have been held centrally only since January 1986.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions in the last year complaints involving bullying have been so numerous or so recurrent in a unit that the matter has been referred to his Department.

obtained only at disproportionate cost. The available statistics, which are shown below for 1985 and 1986, group offences into eight categories. When an individual was convicted of offences from more than one category, he or she has been counted against the most serious category, the order of severity being that shown in the tables. Punishments awarded are also shown in order of severity, decreasing from left to right. When multiple punishments were awarded, the most serious has been counted.

During the last year, against the background of allegations in late 1986 about initiation ceremonies in 3 Royal Green Jackets—later proved to be largely baseless—all cases of alleged bullying in the Army have been referred to my Department. To date there have been some 89 cases in all, some of them relating to alleged incidents before this period. Their being reported to MOD is not a function of any marked increase in such incidents, but rather a reflection of how seriously this whole question is being treated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since 1984 no disciplinary action has been taken against soldiers who went absent without leave when on their return it was established that the absence was because of bullying.

I refer the right hon. Member to my letter of 3 December. I regret that the information the right hon. Member seeks is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many courts martial there have been in each of the last five years; in how many of these the charge was related to some form of bullying; and in how many there was a guilty verdict.

The numbers of courts martial held in the period 1982–1986 are as follows:

Royal NavyArmyRoyal Air ForceTotal
1982491,1482391,436
1983658442371,146
1984738531901,116
1985658452171,127
198660644144848
Details are not recorded in a way which would permit the ready identification of those cases in which the charges related to some form of bullying since no offence under the service discipline Acts is defined as such. It is, however, an offence under section 36A of the Naval Discipline Act 1957 and sections 65 of the Army and Air Force Acts 1955 for an officer, warrant officer of non-commissioned officer to strike or otherwise ill-treat a person of inferior rank; and the numbers of courts martial convictions for offences under these sections in the period 1982–1986 are as follows:

Royal NavyArmyRoyal Air ForceTotal
1982Nil314
1983Nil17118
198458215
1985Nil15318
1986Nil448

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library details of those allegations of bullying given to newspapers which he reports in his letter of 2 December to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South to have been found to be baseless; and what investigations were carried out to lead his Department to this conclusion.