Select Committee on Defence Third Report



128. One of the continuing themes in the DOC appraisals of initial training has been the impact of resource constraints on funding their recommendations. DOC (2) refers to the combination of the "very large throughput of recruits and trainees"; and the pressure to reduce wastage and resource constraints placing a strain on the system that has led to compromises.[197] DOC (2) states that resource constraints have affected "morale, ethos, motivation and welfare of both staff and trainees".[198]

129. The estimated outturn for the respective training agencies in 2004-05 are: Royal Navy £413 million; Army £870 million; and RAF £535 million.[199] The Minister told us that, following the DOC appraisal, £23,225,000 was put into the training regime, from the short-term programme, 2004 (STP 04), to fund additional instructors and other recommendations.[200] He confirmed:

    we are spending now to that higher level and there would have to be very provable reasons why you reduce that spend, why you reduce those instructors or all the other areas of spend which are going on now. So I have no plans to cut it, and I do not think there are any plans to cut it, and those who make those allegations do not understand the intensity of the way we are addressing this issue.[201]

130. The training organisation has to compete with other priorities. The Minister told us:

    There has to be a balance between the front line equipment, between training and exercises, and, broadly speaking, that is how we cut the cake. The examination of the Defence Training Review is to look at are we doing all of these things in the best way and say you can find efficiencies within your own system. That is part of the driver at the moment in MoD: do not assume there is someone out there with a pot of gold who is going to give us money. Although we have had very substantial uplift from the Treasury on this in the last Spending Round and in this but, like any spending department, you could do with more money.[202]

He added:

    It is never an easy equation—I use that phrase again—to solve this because there are massive demands within defence, we have only got so much to spend and we have to do it wisely and best. In my earlier statement I said this is one of the key components of our capability, what comes out of that training environment, it is of high quality, it was of high quality and it has got to remain at high quality, so investment is required.[203]

131. The DOC best practice working group minutes, from March 2004, make clear that funding remains a priority. The document states:

    The considered view was that the allocated funding was inadequate to bring about enduring improvements in the priority areas coming out of the DOC and Surrey Police recommendations.[204]

132. There has been pressure on the resources provided to the training regime for many years.[205] The task for those in charge of training is to make the best use of the resources they have and to re-invigorate those parts of the regime that have "an air of resigned, weary cynicism".[206] Rear Admiral Goodall pointed out the benefit of reducing the number of establishments in the training estate as it would save valuable funds.[207]

133. Both DOC (1) and (2) reported concerns about phase 2 Army training establishments, but concluded that there had been "a great deal of effort" put into examining and implementing recommendations from the initial appraisal.[208] Much of what has been done has focused on improvements that could be made through 'quick wins'.[209] The desire to find an immediate response, and to implement those changes that can be made with the minimum additional resource is laudable, but of greater importance is a demonstrable commitment by the Armed Forces to longer-term improvements in initial training establishments. We recommend that the Armed Forces devise a programme of improvements that is affordable, reviewable and consistent with the high priority the issue merits.

134. Initial training competes with front-line operations and other MoD activities for the limited resources available. We do not intend to argue the merits of all those activities, but we note that, compared to some aspects of defence spending, the sums necessary to deliver appreciable benefits in initial training are relatively small.

Dissemination of duty of care information

135. MoD's objectives for initial training pass down through a series of plans and strategic documents to the individual training agencies. Each training agency is charged with meeting targets for trainee numbers, and provision of a range of educational resources.[210] Policy on duty of care issues, although set from the centre, should be informed by the experience of those directly involved in the training environment; and those directly involved need to receive and understand the policy, guidance and best practice promulgated from the centre. In the Army, ATRA has responsibility for taking forward issues and providing policy and direction, and liaising with the Army Welfare Committee which is responsible for providing a number of the resources and agencies within the duty of care regime.[211] In the other Services the respective training agencies take the lead in duty of care policy making and production of appropriate guidance for training staff. The formulation of policy and its promulgation within the higher levels of the training organisations seems to be conducted diligently and efficiently. This was not always the case in relation to duty of care issues. For example, the recommendations of the Haes report, were not implemented. What is not clear to us is whether those further down the chain of command—the junior officers, senior and junior NCOs—are provided with sufficient support and advice on duty of care issues. The Director of Operational Capability, Brigadier Mungo Melvin told us:

    The feedback, the loop, if I may use that expression, from recruit or trainee to the officer who is looking after him or back to his parents or to his commanding officer is important. Where those feedback groups and mechanisms to raise a problem early are not in place that is where we found difficulty.[212]

136. We have found that there is insufficient awareness of duty of care policy throughout the chain of command. Effective implementation of policy is hampered by a lack of understanding of its purpose, particularly on the part of those delivering the policy objectives to trainees.

Information to trainees

137. In all three Services the welfare structures are explained during a series of briefings at the beginning of training, which are reinforced by booklets and pamphlets.[213] These booklets and pamphlets set out the policy in relation to, for example, harassment and bullying as well as relevant contact details and helpline numbers.[214] Recruits also receive unit-specific material, and information about the likely rigours and challenges to be faced during training, and the disciplinary regime that they will be under.[215]

138. In the Navy, recruits are made aware of the welfare support systems by visits to the medical centre and chaplaincy during their first week at HMS Raleigh. The recruits also receive briefings by their Divisional Officer. In phase 2 trainees are "once again apprised of the duty of care regime, the message being reinforced by briefings by divisional staff and the [Officer Commanding]".[216]

139. Recruits' loyalty to and identification with their chosen Service and trade is essential to good morale. Visits to, and from front line units help recruits identify with their Service and have a better understanding of the eventual role they will play. The RAF, for example, provides regular visits for phase 1 and 2 recruits to operational units and historic RAF sites. The Royal Navy has improved front-line links with training establishments and provides ship visits to vessels undertaking operational sea training off Plymouth.[217] In addition, recruits are given early notice of the ships that they will be posted to and the ship's future itinerary. Similarly, the Royal Artillery has found recruits welcome early notification of their front-line unit.[218] Group Captain Howard told us that in the Army:

    Catterick stood out very well with their links with the regiments and they had done a tremendous amount of work up there since our earlier reports to establish identity and to get that link where a recruit was identified on day one as a member of that particular regiment, given the t-shirt, given the beret—very simple things, but he actually felt as though he belonged and he was not just any recruit. That was very obvious, and that also helped the instructors because the regiments came back to visit their respective recruit candidates—a lot of the regiments are obviously co-located at Catterick—and the Commanders were also able to keep tabs on and watch the instructors that they had sent to the Recruit Training Centre.[219]

140. The ATRA code sets out the commitment made by the trainee, and by the Commander of the training establishment. For example, the code commits the Commanding Officer to:

    Provide [the recruit] with a living and working environment free from unlawful discrimination, harassment and bullying, and explain the complaints procedure to [provide the recruit], including whom to contact…

    Provide reasonable and easy access to welfare personnel and facilities. Explain to [the recruit] how to contact an officer independent of the chain of command to objectively listen to serious concerns [the recruit] may have.[220]

Recruits make a corresponding commitment to:

    Report all incidents of unlawful discrimination, harassment, bullying or unsociable behaviour immediately to the appropriate officer.[221]

141. Training Covenants that set out a 'contract' between the trainer and the trainee have been widely implemented, and "assisted in setting the tone and behavioural culture in many of the establishments". DOC (2) concluded that the covenant "made explicit what before had been implicit and supervisory staff found it useful to have a moral sanction and the ability to draw on an agreed code of conduct".[222]

142. We commend MoD for providing clear and concise material on duty of care issues, and improved contact with and information about front-line units for trainees. We commend the use of contracts and covenants to set out clearly what is expected of recruits.


143. As we described earlier in this report, the majority of information available to potential recruits describes what can be expected from a Service career. Little information is provided by recruiting offices on what to expect during training. The families told us that no information was provided at that stage for parents.[223] The Commanding Officers of some training establishments will write to parents, particularly if the recruit is under 18 years of age, to introduce themselves and the establishment. However, this practice does not seem to be universal. In the Army, the sub-unit commander and troop commander both have a responsibility to liaise with trainees' parents.[224] The Commanding Officers' letters that we have seen for the parents or guardians of those entering phase 2 training highlight the priority afforded to welfare issues and the significance of successfully completing phase 2 training. Parents are encouraged to attend their children's passing out parade at the end of training, but are not invited to visit the base or contact staff during phase 2. At HMS Collingwood we were told about the importance of maintaining regular communication with parents of trainees, particularly the parents of trainees who were struggling in the training regime. The guidance we have seen from the RAF on approaching parents if a trainee has a problem stresses the importance of obtaining consent to make such contact. It advises training units that in exceptional circumstances they may contact parents even if the trainee has not given consent, and refers to the need to assess the parental situation. We were told that parental involvement helped to reduce wastage rates. Col Eccles, told us:

    We have been focusing on the recruiting element of it at the moment but once the young person enters phase one training we do have a number of set procedures and these are laid down in the ATRA Handbook, which I hope you have seen, whereby the commanding officers can get in touch with parents at the beginning of the course and say that if they have any concerns or problems, this is the contact number they should phone. We try to establish contact at the beginning. A number of the establishments invite parents at the half way point and they all invite them at the end, so we try and maintain that linkage throughout.[225]

144. Despite the beneficial effect of parental involvement, none of the families we took evidence from had had any contact with Commanding Officers during their children's training. Mr Gray told us that his son:

    went off and did his basic training and we had no contact with the Army whatsoever in the meantime. So I feel that, yes, there is a need for better liaison. I am not saying that we should molly-coddle young soldiers or wet nurse them, but there should be contact with the families.[226]

The Deepcut families told us that they would have appreciated having someone to contact at the base. And suggested that parents could be given a progress report during the training period, to let them know whether their children are doing well, or if there are any areas of concern.[227]

145. Some recruits will not wish to have their parents involved in their service career. Equally, in some cases, parents may not wish to be involved. We consider MoD should assume that parents will be involved unless the recruit indicates otherwise. Older recruits, will usually be more independent of their parents, and neither they nor their parents may feel the need for the level of parental involvement appropriate for younger recruits. Nevertheless, general information on the establishment and who to contact in case of emergency should be provided as a matter of course, for parents to use as they see fit.[228] Moreover, the families suggested that it would be beneficial to have advice that would have allowed them to recognise the possible significance of behavioural changes in their children, for example becoming withdrawn, which may indicate a more serious problem. Such guidance should also provide advice on what to do if they suspect their child is being bullied and ensure that contacts are receptive to those concerns, and that confidentiality is respected.[229]

146. Recruits need to have access to methods of communication, such as mobile phones and email. DOC (2) noted that there was "official acceptance" of the need for recruits and trainees to communicate more freely by mobile phone, telephone and e-mail, which had led to the installation of additional computers and pay-phones.[230] Enhancing the ability of recruits and trainees to contact their families and friends is welcome. For older recruits communication with their parents may be of less concern, however, they may have partners or dependents who they wish to contact on a regular basis. Greater access to communication should be matched by parents, or guardians having a route into the chain of command so that they have an opportunity to clarify information they may have been given by their children. We consider the Armed Forces relationship with bereaved parents in paragraphs 351-361 below.

147. During both phases of training, unless a recruit decides to exclude his or her parents from their Service career, parents or guardians should be provided with contact details of welfare officers and Commanding Officers. Parents or guardians should receive information on possible behavioural changes in their children that may indicate they are having problems; in addition parents and guardians should receive advice on what to do if they notice such changes. Parents should be given advice on who to contact if their concerns are serious or have not been dealt with to their satisfaction. If a recruit's parents are divorced or no longer live together, both parents should receive information and advice.

Duty of Care structures

148. The Armed Forces Overarching Personnel Strategy sets out the goals of welfare structures and provision at initial training establishments.[231] The first line of support is provided by officers, NCOs, unit welfare officers, chaplains and medical staff. The second line of support is described as the proactive delivery of 'community' support, such as recreational facilities; and the reactive services provided to those identified as in need.[232] There is no formal single structure for welfare support in initial training establishments.[233] Within each Service and each base the precise model or structure used to discharge duty of care responsibilities varies. The model of welfare support in a given establishment will depend on local conditions, the type of training, the age and maturity of recruits, the availability of agencies to support the establishment, the available resources and the approach taken by the Commanding Officer and welfare staff.

149. Common to all Services is the mixture of personnel from both within and outside the chain of command providing welfare support to recruits. Some aspects of the welfare regime are mandated. Each Unit is required to provide an appropriately trained Welfare Officer, a service chaplain, Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) staff and telephone or email access to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) run Confidential Support Line. Units are also required to have a designated 'Empowered Officer', outside a recruit's immediate chain of command, with whom they can discuss in confidence any perceived unfair treatment or welfare issue.

150. Recruits' main day to day contact will be with the supervisors and instructors. General Palmer explained:

    The welfare actually starts right at the bottom with the corporal, the sergeant and the platoon commander. They are directly responsible for the individual welfare of their individual recruits. I remember when I was a platoon commander in training that every Friday we had a conference. I know this happens today and I am sure you will meet this as you go around. There you discuss every single one of your platoon, how they are getting on, what their problems are, etcetera, and that gets reported up the chain. Everybody is graded. Whether it is a training issue or a welfare issue there are plenty of mechanisms for doing that.[234]

151. At the other end of the chain of command the Commanding Officer is required to publish an annual Supervisory Care Directive. A full briefing and explanation of this directive forms part of the induction process for trainees and instructors on joining a training establishment. The Commanding Officer, or his designated Welfare Officer, will usually preside over regular meetings with the various constituent agencies to discuss general issues and individual cases. Colonel Eccles summarised the structure at Army training establishments:

    the commanding officer will probably run a welfare forum in which he has his doctor, his chaplain, his WRVS lady, company commanders and all the people involved in this process and they will review policies and progress. They may also deal with individual cases and have a case conference to deal with people they are concerned about. That is how it is co-ordinated within a formal structure at the unit level.[235]

152. Training establishments should have a Welfare Committee chaired by either the Commanding Officer or his deputy that meets on a regular, probably monthly, basis bringing together the Unit Welfare Officer, Chaplain, Medical Officer, and all the welfare agencies supporting the Unit.[236] At HMS Raleigh we were told about a Carers' forum which meets every seven weeks. This consists of the chaplains, medical officers and Divisional Officers who monitor and discuss welfare issues. Smaller groups hold case conferences to discuss recruits whose behaviour is deemed to place them at risk from self-harm. In the Royal Marines, welfare support is provided by 14 Welfare Officers and Naval Chaplains. Carers' meetings are held either weekly or fortnightly to discuss trends and individual cases if necessary.

153. When we visited the Defence College of Logistics at Deepcut we were told of the procedures for identifying trainees at risk. In addition to Regimental and Squadron conferences to discuss welfare issues, information on recruits was obtained by close liaison with trainers at the recruits' phase 1 training establishment; interviews with Troop Commanders during the recruits' first week, and detailed medical document checks.

154. We were told on our visits to Army phase 2 training establishments that support structures for trainees, designed to reduce the potential problems of moving into phase 2 training and identifying trainees most at risk, have in general been implemented. The Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, Bovington, for example, had an experienced and highly visible Empowered Officer, and provided a range of welfare services available to trainees. WRVS staff at Bovington included those with psychiatry qualifications. Although this was described to us as a 'happy coincidence' and is not replicated at other training establishments where staff often offered little more than 'tea and sympathy'.

155. The Royal Navy, and RAF, have similar structures in place to provide a forum for inter-agency discussion and to feed back into the chain of command. The Royal Navy, and RAF do not seem to have as rigid and developed a structure as the Army, which may be due to the higher level of activity the Army has been obliged to undertake in this area. Nevertheless, the Royal Navy and RAF have instituted several improvements to their recruiting and training systems following on from the DOC appraisals, for example the Royal Navy has identified the need for an additional 42 supervisory posts, and funding for the 15 'most urgent' has been provided.[237]

156. In the Navy, commanders are now charged with "undertaking an annual review of the unit's supervisory regime, morale, ethos and training culture".[238] The Navy's primary welfare mechanism is the Divisional System, in which the Divisional Officer "commands, leads and manages those in the division".[239] MoD told us that the Royal Navy is moving towards a fully civilian run welfare service, managed and manned predominantly by fully qualified social workers.[240]

157. Trainees are supervised by a Divisional Officers (usually Lieutenant Commanders). Weekly duty of care meetings are held under the guidance of the Divisional Officer with training officers, instructors, chaplains, medical staff and other welfare staff. These duty of care meetings are held to share best practice and note trends in welfare issues at the establishment. During the course of this inquiry we visited HMS Sultan and noted the range and mixture of expertise available for dealing with welfare issues particularly the inclusion at weekly Carers' group meetings of the visiting psychiatric nurse and social worker.

158. During our visit to HMS Collingwood we were told that the Carers' Forum comprised officers, chaplains and civilian welfare staff and enabled weekly exchange of information on trainees deemed 'at risk'. A traffic light system was used to designate the level of risk associated with an individual. The information was included in the Command Watch document, which provided a commentary on an individual's progress and the welfare system's interventions. We were impressed by the use of a traffic light system of designating risk and tracking individuals.

159. During our visit to the RAF base, DCAE Cosford, we were told that the Personnel Management Squadron (PMS) provided the focus for welfare expertise in the unit. The PMS met weekly to discuss welfare issues and monthly with the chaplains, SSAFA, medics and police staff. Welfare cases relating to individual recruits were considered separately by the PMS together with the chaplaincy team, medical staff, SSAFA, HIVE, and Community Development Worker. However, it seemed to us that there was little formal structure to the welfare arrangements at the base. On arrival at RAF Halton, recruits compose a 'pen portrait' of themselves, which instructors have found useful because they are often frank and revealing and may indicate potential behavioural problems.

160. MoD told us that "No major changes are being made to current RAF care regimes in training. However, there is a process of continuing improvement".[241] MoD referred to work in progress to re-examine the guidance on the care of under 18 year olds, and "assurance audits on the care regimes in the newly formed Defence Training Establishments".[242] Several proposed RAF initiatives were not funded under STP 04, including programmes for trainee mentoring, trainee visits, and recreational facilities.[243]

161. We have noted the different approaches to welfare provision across the Services. The Minister told us that, "diversity of itself could be encouraging because then people are looking at better and different ways of doing things all the time...these things have grown up organically but now all that is being examined to see what are the best practices, what is the best way forward".[244] We received evidence from the Metropolitan Police which identified the care and support services available for students at the Peel Centre Hendon.[245] In addition to the support available from the Police Federation, staff associations and instructors (who act as line managers to the student officers) the Pastoral Care Unit provides confidential advice to student officers with welfare problems and provides a link to other agencies and units who may be able to assist them. During our visit to the Peel Centre we met the staff of the Pastoral Care Unit and noted the quality of support and level of experience provided by the staff we met. We note, however, that the training environment at the Peel Centre is markedly different to that of Armed Forces training establishments due not least to the much shorter residential training period, significantly higher age of the average trainee and their level of education.

162. The purpose of the duty of care regime is to not only support trainees through the training programme, but also to identify those vulnerable individuals who may be at risk. The duty of care models for all three services focus on bringing together the various welfare agencies to pool their knowledge and expertise. Nevertheless, DOC (2) found evidence of the chain of command not being fully apprised of risks at unit level.[246] Mr Waterman told us that "…there are opportunities for improving the evaluation of those risks, looking at the ways in which they can be managed and in particular looking in a more holistic way at the environment, the psychological environment which can be created around those recruits so that they are more robust in handling those risks and tackling them".[247] A mechanism is therefore required by which risk can be honestly identified, articulated and understood at every level of the training regime, without the understandable concerns and constraints of confidentiality causing serious dislocation.

163. We are concerned at the ad hoc nature of duty of care structures. A formalised structure, locally adapted as necessary, would help with monitoring the support provided by training establishments. We recognise the benefits of a range of people and agencies being involved in welfare provision, but note that the fragmented nature of support structures may create a situation in which there is no single "owner" of welfare issues.

164. The three Services share many components of their duty of care structures. The common elements are intended to encourage recruits to voice their concerns and ensure that people and agencies are available to listen to those concerns and act on them. Those goals will be thwarted if recruits do not feel able to seek assistance; if people and agencies are not easily accessible or approachable; or are unable to reassure recruits that they have the necessary or appropriate authority to bring about a resolution.

165. The welfare forums provide an opportunity for frequent discussion on welfare issues. Units should provide MoD with information on the frequency of meetings, the attendance of key figures, such as the Commanding Officer and any changes in the frequency or arrangements for meetings.

166. MoD should ensure that best practice for duty of care structures is shared within and between Services.

167. It is clear to us from our visits that the attitude and approach of the Commanding Officer is key to the efficacy of the duty of care regime. For example, according to Rear Admiral Goodall "the effectiveness of the Empowered Officer was dependent, to an extent on the behaviour of the Commanding Officer".[248] Similarly, the WRVS confirmed that the Commanding Officer set the frequency of welfare meetings and that changes in Commanding Officer could lead to changes in the regime.[249] The Commanding Officer will influence the attitude of the entire chain of command and his or her example will be followed by subordinates.

168. The Armed Forces regard the chain of command as the backbone that enables them to work effectively. The importance of the chain of command and the role of the Commanding Officer in setting the standards that the rest of the unit's commanders will follow should not be underestimated. Therefore, it is imperative that Commanding Officers are made fully aware of their role and responsibilities in delivering appropriate duty of care across initial training establishments.


169. DOC recommended the establishment of the role of Empowered Officer. The Empowered Officer should be a senior ranking officer, or senior retired officer although 'senior' has not been defined by MoD. The role of the Empowered Officer is to provide an alternative source of advice and support, outside the trainees' direct chain of command to whom they can report bullying or other welfare issues. Group Captain Howard, the Assistant Director of Operational Capability, told us that the units had interpreted the role in a variety of ways. He said:

170. The rationale of providing an alternative to the chain of command is based firstly on the realisation that there have been incidents in which members of the chain of command have been involved in bullying; and secondly on the acknowledged reluctance of trainees to approach the chain of command on welfare issues. General Palmer told us that the message to recruits was "for goodness sake, if they are feeling they are being bullied or harassed to say something".[251] The Empowered Officer has direct access to the commanding officer of the unit and can therefore bypasses the training team.[252]

171. Empowered Officers are supposed to attend the Unit Welfare Officers' Course.[253] However, they are not required to have specific training to assist them in their duties because, as Colonel Eccles described it to us, the qualities that an Empowered Officer required were "innate within the system"; by which he presumably meant that officers would already have the necessary skills and abilities to carry out the role of Empowered Officer without specific welfare training.[254]

172. Empowered Officers had been appointed in "almost every unit" by July 2003.[255] However, DOC (2) found, for example in Army units and at DST Leconfield, too few Empowered Officers for the number of trainees, and that many trainees did not know the identity of their Empowered Officer.[256] At a phase 1 establishment we visited, the names and numbers of the Empowered Officers were not included on recruit's contact cards, and their relationship to the chain of command was not always well understood by recruits. DOC also noted that Navy units relied on the Divisional Officer system in preference to Empowered Officers.

173. DOC (2) has found that trainees were reluctant to approach officers with welfare issues or to make use of Empowered Officers.[257] However, Group Captain Howard thought that the degree of reluctance would vary between the Services. He told us that DOC had "found a great difference between the Services and I think that is just a cultural issue in that in the Royal Navy and in the Air Force airmen and sailors work alongside officers and that is a relationship that is established from day one. The Army is very different".[258] Brigadier Melvin told us that :

    The measure of the system is the trust in which the individuals are held, not by the chain of command but by the individuals to whom they should have recourse, and a simple measure is that if these people are the conduit for these concerns and complaints then they are being trusted. If nobody comes to the Empowered Officers that is the simple measure that they are not being seen to be trusted.[259]

174. During informal discussions with trainees at initial training establishments we found that many of those we spoke to did not consider the Empowered Officer to be approachable. This was particularly the case in the Army, where one Empowered Officer told us he had received very few approaches from recruits in just over a year. Conversely, at Bovington we were told that the Empowered Officer had been approached on many occasions by trainees with a range of problems. MoD has confirmed that Empowered Officers are "utilised only on an infrequent basis".[260] The main point of contact with uniformed staff for most recruits remains their instructors and junior NCOs supervising them. Colonel Eccles told us that:

    We need to make sure the person is sufficiently removed from the normal, day-to-day chain of command of each of the recruits, so he or she can be seen to have that separation. That is certainly something we would want to develop because perception is more important in this instance than reality, so they need to be outside the immediate chain of command of the individual and in that way be seen to be independent.[261]

175. Mr Waterman told us that:

    Recruits needed an independent point of contact—'so that they can make that report with confidence that it will not affect their careers, but that it will be acted upon. Using the empowered officer is probably not the right route.'[262]

176. We are not convinced on the limited evidence currently available that Empowered Officers are an approach that is working. We have heard throughout our inquiry that recruits are reluctant to discuss their concerns with the chain of command. Recruits who are not comfortable talking to an NCO may be even less inclined to seek out an officer.

177. The approachability of officers varies both among the Services and within Services. From our observations at units in the UK and abroad, we have noticed that the degree of proximity does influence the relationship between officers and other ranks. For example, in the Royal Navy, submariners who serve in close proximity to one another may feel more at ease with officers than those serving on surface vessels. The Empowered Officer is less likely to be an effective resource for recruits and trainees who are have not had the opportunity to build relationships with officers.

178. MoD seems to have no contingency plan in the event of the Empowered Officer model failing. We are not convinced that the Empowered Officer model will work. We therefore recommend that MoD, consider urgently alternative approaches to providing a conduit for recruit and trainee complaints outside the chain of command.

Alternatives to the Empowered Officer

179. Several witnesses suggested that a more credible system would be to provide an accessible and independent complaints procedure that circumvents the chain of command.[263] For example, the family of Private David McKenna, who died on 11 September 1995 at Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh, state:

    We spoke to David the week before he died and tried to get him to report everything that was going on. He said he had no-one to talk to. The chain of command was the only thing he could use and it was this that was the problem. How could he report misconduct to the people who were doing it in the first place? On the Thursday before he died we spoke to our Minister and he was going to try to speak to the Chaplain to see if he could help…[264]

They continued:

    … We took care of him for 18 years. The Army had him for just over 1 year the regiment for 4 months and he died. They certainly failed in their duty of care to our son… because he had not reported any problems the Army could not be held responsible.[265]

180. Similarly, the parents of Pte. James Collinson who died at Deepcut Barracks on March 23 2002 state:

    Over the past 24 months, we have been contacted by various serving soldiers, family of serving soldiers and ex-soldiers. They share their experiences of Deepcut and other barracks. The main point of concern would appear to be that where bullying is a major issue, recruits feel they have no where to turn for help and guidance. They may be offered advice from a NCO; however any assistance would appear to require the consent of a senior officer who may be a part of the bullying ring. Where a recruit goes AWOL, they are returned to the hands of the bullies without support or understanding and become desperate for a way out.[266]

181. The Catterick families who gave us evidence argued that only someone totally independent of the Armed Forces would have the confidence of a recruit who was experiencing difficulties, particularly if they involved to the chain of command.[267] Similarly, Mr Waterman told us:

      There should also be an outlet which is independent of the command management structure for alerting people to the fact that they are not coping very well with whatever it is that they are being exposed to, whether it is deliberately part of their training or whether it is to do with the social context in which it is taking place. We think that there is room for improvement and we do think that some of that room can be explored by improving the quality of training for people who are in supervisory and managerial positions.[268]

    182. SSAFA described to us how their qualified social workers, who provided independent, professional advice to Service personnel, were removed from the Army's welfare organisation. Commodore Branscombe told us that "we believe that there is a need for professionally based independent social workers to be working with these establishments".[269] We recommend that MoD urgently review the possibility of SSAFA or similar qualified civilian staff providing an alternative to the Empowered Officer.

    183. We are persuaded by the arguments in favour of a non-military model, in which a civilian would have a position equivalent to the Empowered Officer, with direct access to the welfare services within a unit, and authority to make binding recommendations.

    184. We further recommend that MoD consider introducing professionally trained counsellors in training establishments who would be available to recruits and trainees. Such counsellors should be able to initiate monitoring and support for individuals at risk without hindrance from the chain of command. We expect that MoD will consider best practice in this area from other disciplined organisations including the police force.


    185. Chaplains receive training in military skills and organisation so that they can operate efficiently on deployments. All chaplains are also taught about the role of the military chaplaincy and how it relates to Commanding Officers and the Armed Forces' welfare agencies.[270] In the Army and RAF chaplains retain their rank and uniform. In contrast Naval chaplains do not as a matter of course wear uniform and wear no badge of rank. We were told that this was so Naval Chaplains could assume the rank of whoever they were speaking to.

    186. Traditionally the chaplaincy has provided moral guidance and information and advice outside the chain of command. During our visits to initial training establishments we were impressed by the dedication of the chaplains we met, and saw that they were generally regarded positively by recruits. But some doubts have been raised about whether young recruits, who might have little or no previous experience of organised religion, see them as an approachable source of advice or support on issues such as bullying and harassment.[271]

    187. Mrs Farr expressed doubts about Army chaplains being able to provide an independent source of help and advice because they are within the military structure.[272] Nevertheless, DOC (2) found that chaplains are generally held in high regard by recruits, regardless of faith.[273] With the increasing diversity of the Armed Forces a Christian chaplain is called on to provide a spiritual focus for servicemen and women from a wider range of religions. We have not seen evidence suggesting that individuals from other faiths are disinclined to approach the chaplain. The provision of faith-based advice and guidance is being extended to include access to other religions.[274] We are concerned that chaplains may not be regarded by all recruits to be as approachable as the Armed Forces assume. As the nature of the recruit population changes, it is possible that chaplains will become a less recognisable source of advice for new recruits. This is an issue the Armed Forces will need to address if they are to ensure that the role of the chaplaincy is not diminished and that chaplains remain a source of counsel for recruits.

    188. The Armed Forces have relied on chaplains being perceived by recruits as removed from the chain of command. We suspect that for some recruits the Chaplains are as remote as any senior officer. There is evidence that recruits find Royal Navy Chaplains more accessible because they lack a fixed rank. We recommend that the other Services consider adopting that approach.


    189. The role of the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Families Association—Forces Help (SSAFA) differs across the Services. In the RAF, SSAFA Forces Help provide the entire social work and personal welfare support at training and operational bases, in the UK and overseas. SSAFA have relatively little involvement with the training establishments of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines where, the Association state, it is not aware of 'significant analogous problems' to those in the Army in relation to recruit welfare.[275] In the Army, SSAFA's civilian qualified social workers, until December 2000, supervised senior NCOs in the Army Welfare Service. That role ended because HQ Land Command wished to retain welfare support under the control of the chain of command. The Army's desire to have full control of welfare support is understandable, and may be desirable. However, we have heard many witnesses urge the introduction of an independent, civilian, trained welfare service, such as SSAFA provide.

    190. SSAFA Forces Help also provides the Confidential Support Line (CSL)—a helpline "with the objective of providing an easily accessible point of contact for Army personnel with personal problems, including equal opportunities issues such as bullying and discrimination".[276] SSAFA state that the CSL was "emphatically to be independent of the military chain of command, fully confidential, and staffed by specially-trained non military personnel with appropriate experience and skills".[277]

    191. In 2003, the CSL which is available to the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines received 4072 contacts, 681 of which were judged to be hoax calls. Including emails the CSL received 3391 genuine contacts in 2003, more than double the previous year.[278] The contact details for the CSL and other welfare contacts are displayed on posters at initial training establishments and repeated on credit card-sized handouts for recruits to retain. DOC (2) notes that "Some of the telephone help-lines on the credit cards were either misprinted or had no-one on the line to take the call when we tested the link during the evening of our visit".[279] That situation had improved by the second reappraisal. We commend SSAFA's commitment to provide a source of advice and support to Service personnel and their families.


    192. The Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) provide Services Welfare Officers (SWOs) to assist Commanding Officers, in the Army and RAF, by providing emotional and practical support to recruits and trainees. Commanding Officers should be able to provide the WRVS with appropriate facilities with which to operate.[280] In most initial training establishments the WRVS run recreational clubs that do not serve alcohol, and offer snooker, table tennis, television and video facilities.[281] The role of the WRVS within a unit may vary, depending on the resources available. During our visits we met highly motivated, and at one particular establishment, highly qualified WRVS staff who were able to provide support to the more formal welfare systems. However, in other establishments the WRVS may only be able to act as little more than a post-box for other agencies.

    193. The WRVS are often characterised as mother figures, offering tea and sympathy, but they have an important role in referring recruits on to other welfare agencies as appropriate.[282] The WRVS are popular with recruits and trainees and are seen as an alternative source of confidential advice and support for recruits outside the chain of command.[283] The chain of command may also refer individual recruits to the WRVS.[284] In such cases the WRVS assess the level of risk associated with the individual and can provide a range of services, from low level counselling and support through to co-ordinating immediate action with the chain of command and other welfare and medical services.[285]

    194. DOC (2) found that WRVS and HIVE (Help Information Volunteer Exchange) Services were under-funded and were characterised by run-down and inadequate facilities.[286] Since then there has been an increase in the numbers of WRVS staff at training establishments, and services and facilities have improved.[287]

    195. In addition to the WRVS there are a range of other organisations that provide welfare advice at initial training establishments, such as the Salvation Army and HIVE. During our visits we met with many Hive volunteers. HIVE provides information, such as initial arrival information for new recruits, information on the local area and facilities, and contact telephone numbers for other agencies. Colonel Eccles described the range of organisations involved in providing welfare services:

      There are several institutions which have put in both non-public and public money to improve the recreational areas for recruits. The Council for Voluntary Welfare Workers for example, a number of Christian based organisations such as the Sandys Homes, the Church Army, produce quiet areas, non-alcoholic areas where youngsters can go to relax, watch television, play pool and so on.[288]

    196. We commend the work of individuals working within the non-uniformed welfare services. We recognise, however, that there is considerable variation in the services provided by these organisations at different establishments depending not least on the Commanding Officer's support and interest. We are concerned that Commanding Officers may be tempted to 'tick the box' of welfare provision merely on the basis that an organisation is present within an establishment and not give that provision the importance it very much deserves.


    197. Medical Services provide a key component of the duty of care structure. Medical officers will frequently be the first to have an opportunity to identify psychological or physical problems. The Army's Suicide Prevention Policy guidelines for Medical Officers include guidance on the issue of confidentiality. The guidelines state:

    198. The guidelines go on to set out the importance of considering the implications of maintaining patient confidentiality if a risk of suicide or self harm is identified. The risk to an individual of committing such acts can be increased if the chain of command is not aware of the risk, for example, by not removing the individual from situations where they will have access to loaded firearms.[290]

    199. The Guidelines make clear that consent for disclosure should be sought. They state:

      Disclosure of personal information without consent may be justified where a failure to do so may expose the patient or others to risk or death or serious harm. Where third parties are exposed to a risk so serious that it outweighs the patient's privacy interest, you should seek consent to disclosure where practicable.[291]

    200. Medical Services are provided by civilians and military personnel. The question of maintaining patient confidentiality for recruits and trainees may be more complex with civilian medical personnel. We were told that Commanders can be frustrated by civilian medical staff insisting on maintaining confidentiality. A Commanding Officer may feel that they have not been given the opportunity to assess or respond to a welfare situation because the medical staff did not disclose information. We are not aware, however, of military medical staff being seen by recruits as less independent or trustworthy. There are weaknesses in the provision of medical Services at initial training establishments.[292] In some cases posts are not filled, or are filled by civilian locums, which can in itself cause problems due to lack of experience, for example, in identifying individuals at risk.[293]

    201. We recommend that MoD provides induction courses for civilian medical staff taking up posts at initial training establishments to ensure that they are fully acquainted with the implications of working in a military environment and the sensitive boundaries between patient confidentiality and justifiable service concerns.

    202. We have heard of circumstances in which trainees who have suffered injuries have had to continue with inappropriate physical activities.[294] Training staff may consider that some trainees are malingering and distrust medical advice, particularly from civilians.[295]

    203. Physical fitness training clearly has to be demanding. It is also important that it is scheduled appropriately in a recruit's training day and that recruits are not expected to undergo demanding training if they are injured. In her written evidence Mrs Farr described an occasion when her son, Daniel, had to go on a run immediately after Nuclear Biological and Chemical Training (NBC):

      …Daniel could not get his mask on and had to be dragged out of the chamber nearly unconscious then made to go on a two mile run. Since researching the deaths I have found out that hard physical exercise should not take place immediately after such training and also NBC training should not take place immediately after a meal or a cold, as this could cause a chemical imbalance in the body.[296]

    204. Mrs Beckley-Lines' son William died after a 2 mile run, after which he collapsed and died. The cause of death was given by the Coroner as exhaustion, and sickle cell anaemia.[297] William's death happened seven months after joining ITC Catterick after what Mrs Beckley-Lines described as a period of rapid weight loss after joining initial training. Mrs Beckley-Lines told us "He was 18 stones when he joined, he was 12 stones when he died".[298]Both these cases suggest that the instructors at ITC Catterick may have failed in their duty of care to recruits who were not in the right physical condition to undergo demanding physical exercise immediately before their deaths.

    205. We recommend that instructors and supervisory staff receive more comprehensive advice about medical issues and instructions not to order recruits to take part in physical exercise against medical advice.

    Access to welfare staff

    206. We received evidence that some recruits have had difficulty in accessing the welfare facilities provided at initial training establishments. At phase 1 initial training establishments the busy nature and length of the training week (8am-6pm for six days per week), limits a recruit's opportunity get access to welfare services without the knowledge of their immediate superiors in their chain of command. Mrs Farr told us that recruits had to ask permission to see welfare staff, "probably off the NCO who is abusing them", and therefore recruits could not gain access confidentially to welfare services.[299] DOC (2) found a similar problem. It noted that "in some [Army] establishments, Instructors were openly hostile to WRVS staff and other 'busy-bodies' and berated trainees for resorting to them or to the officers who were responsible for their welfare".[300] DOC (1) also found that recruits had had difficulty in getting access to the chaplaincy, and recommended that such access should not be "arbitrarily denied".[301] Some of the difficulty in getting access to welfare services was due to the non-availability of welfare staff at times when recruits were free to seek their assistance. MoD have assured us that welfare providers are now more frequently available outside normal working hours.[302] MoD guidance states that "untrammelled access to chaplains is guaranteed" and that although NCOs may need to know a recruits' whereabouts, they may not deny access or demand to know why an appointment with the chaplain has been requested.[303] MoD state "recruits are also given unrestricted and unsupervised access to the Chaplain and the WRVS lady, who will ensure that the recruits know that they can complain safely to them, without fear of retribution".[304] It is difficult for an individual with psychological problems or stress to seek help. That difficulty may be compounded in the Armed Forces, where there is a culture that complaining is a sign of weakness. Ease of access and encouragement to use welfare services are therefore crucial in order to ensure a further and unnecessary obstacle is not placed in the way of a vulnerable recruit seeking assistance.

    207. We recommend that MoD reinforce the message that recruits and trainees should have unhindered access to welfare services and that the chain of command cannot impede such access or demand explanations for or need to know why such access has been sought. MoD should monitor the availability of welfare providers outside normal working hours and ensure that welfare services are available at appropriate times.


    208. The duty of care issue that has received the most attention within the Armed Forces is supervision. The issue was identified as a cause of concern by Colonel Haes and the DOC appraisals.[305] During the working day supervision is provided by instructors, who are often civilian contractors in phase 2 establishments. Outside working hours, and during 'silent hours' NCOs are responsible for supervision. Particularly, in phase 1 establishments the NCOs providing out-of-hours supervision may also be recruits' instructors. The two main concerns that have been raised in relation to supervision are: whether there are sufficient supervisors for the number of trainees; and whether the supervisors are trained for the duty of care aspects of their job. The Surrey Police Final Report highlighted the importance both of the ratio of supervisors to recruits and the quality of those individuals selected to deliver training. Mr Waterman referred to importance of ensuring the quality, training and motivation of supervisors, in addition to enduring an appropriate supervisory ratio.[306]


    209. The large volume of trainees passing through the training system require appropriate instructor numbers to enable the personnel fulfilling these demanding roles to discharge their training and welfare responsibilities effectively. Inadequate numbers of instructors is more pronounced at phase 2 establishments and in particular at phase 2 Army establishments.[307] This has been recognised by MoD.[308]

    210. Following DOC (1), which recommended supervisory ratios should not exceed 1:38, ratios of between 1:12 and 1:40 were set as the benchmark for the working day.[309] The actual level is determined by the Unit Commander's Risk Assessment, and is published in the Supervisory Care Directive, which is reviewed annually. That assessment will include consideration of the age and maturity of the trainees, the nature and distribution of accommodation, the homogeneity of the recruit class the proximity of the duty supervisor and the differing requirements of the training day includingworking hours, off-duty hours and silent hours.[310] The assessment should also allow for female recruits to have access to a female within the supervisory regime.[311] Supervisory ratios have in the past been significantly affected by resource constraints.[312] Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, a former Adjutant General as well as Chief of the Defence Staff, has said "There have been failures and serious, maybe inexcusable, incidents in the training organisation, such as those alleged at Deepcut, which almost certainly are connected to budgetary measures forced on defence which have had an adverse effect on the ratio of staff to recruits undergoing initial training".[313]

    211. In the Army, for phase 2 establishments, the ATRA analysis recommended a supervisory ratio of 1:38, for working hours.[314] ATRA identified a need for additional supervisors at junior NCO level and additional Command and Control staff. The DGT&E considers action on supervisory ratios recommended in the DOC reports to be effectively complete, although in some areas it is awaiting further funding. An additional 192 military personnel were required to improve recruit supervisory care ratios within Army training establishments. So far, 181 personnel have been found from the Field Army, and the necessary funds have been secured to support them until 2006.[315] We would welcome assurances that appropriate funding will continue thereafter.

    212. Nevertheless, resource constraints mean that supervisory ratios continue to be at the minimum of what has been recommended and the need for more supervisors remains. This is a particular concern for out of hours ratios which DOC identified as a residual risk.[316] The phase 2 benchmark supervisory ratio of 1:38 has been set without regard to whether supervisors are military or civilian. The wider use of civilian instructors at phase 2 initial training establishments means that the ratio of military supervisors to recruits may actually be higher. In setting benchmark supervisory ratios, MoD should also state the acceptable ratio of military to civilian personnel.

    213. We are not yet convinced that the supervisory ratios are appropriate in all establishments and at all times of the day and night.


    214. In phase 1 instructors are usually NCOs. In phase 2, while troop commanders are NCOs civilians are often employed as instructors, particularly for technical training. The ATRA Code for instructors demands that they act as role models for the trainees. It highlights the particular challenge to an instructor of striking the right balance between encouragement for those who are experiencing difficulties and discharging those who are never going to achieve the required standard. The Code explains that instructors "must get to know their soldiers well and take care of them in all respects". And that they must be accountable for both the training and well-being of all trainees. The task, the Code says, demands total commitment and a sense of responsibility by the instructor. Those chosen to be instructors, therefore, have a difficult assignment. Careful consideration needs to be given to the qualities required by individuals posted to training establishments. The quality of instructors is particularly important given the relatively small number of instructors who are responsible for large numbers of recruits and trainees.

    215. In selecting instructors the Armed Forces must ensure they are suitable and committed individuals. In addition, the Services must ensure instructors are properly supported. Professor Chivers, Director of the Centre for Hazard and Risk Management, said that "as far as possible, we need people coming forward as instructors in the Armed Forces who are there because they want to be there".[317]

    216. The Army accepts that a good NCO does not necessarily make a good instructor, and Junior NCOs are not considered for Instructor posts on their first tour.[318] DOC noted:

      evidence of indifferent attitudes to trainees' concerns and administrative inquiries, often about pay. In this sense, the lower level chain of command was insufficiently responsive to the demands and needs of the trainees and there was little opportunity for the latter to seek administrative guidance elsewhere.[319]

    Ideally instructors should be volunteers, selected for their suitability and trained for the role. In the past, this has certainly not been the case, and individuals were posted to training establishments regardless of whether they had shown any inclination or desire to be instructors.[320] In the Army, the selection process starts with the instructor unit agreeing a job description with the Army Personnel Centre, which forwards the job description to the field Army units who are required to fill the relevant post. Duty of care issues are included in the job description.[321] In the RAF, individuals may either apply for instructor posts or be nominated by the Personnel Management Agency. In all cases, applicants attend an instructor suitability screening board.[322] During our visits to all three Services, we have met instructors who had not volunteered to become trainers and did not seem to relish the job.

    217. Colonel Haes referred to the process of increased use of civilian contractors in initial training establishments. He argued the process removed substantial numbers of military posts and replaced them in part with civilians who had no responsibility for welfare and care of trainees.[323] General Palmer explained to us that following the identification of significant undermanning in the field Army individuals were moved from the training organisation into the Field Army, and at the same time private contracts were considered to take some of the pressure off the frontline.[324] We have received written evidence from an RAF senior NCO who reinforces the view that civilianisation within the instructors has had a detrimental effect and there seems to be a general perception in the Armed Forces are concerned that civilian contractors undermine military ethos.[325] The proportion of civilian instructors has an impact on supervision, particularly out of hours.


    218. MoD explained that civilians working on military sites are vetted in accordance with the employment that they are given. The lowest level of clearance is a "Basic Check" which simply establishes that the individual is who he or she says he or she is and is entitled to be employed. Civilians who are in close regular contact with recruits and trainees are screened by the Defence Vetting Agency, which will conduct police national computer, credit and security checks to verify that the individual is suitable for employment.[326] There is no requirement to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau Check.

    219. The most recent, high profile, failing of vetting instructors was the case of Private Skinner. On 7 September 2004, Private Skinner pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault relating to four male soldiers between 1992 and 1997. He had been court-martialled previously and was demoted and then within two months was sent as a physical training instructor to Deepcut, where all but one of the offences occurred. Chief Superintendent Denholm told us:

      There are some primary issues that came out of Skinner. The first is that we identified that Skinner abused his position of authority to ensure that his victims acquiesced effectively. The victims themselves did not have sufficient faith in the chain of command or the Army's investigative system to report the assaults: they were subsequently found by us. The victims were afraid of being branded homosexual as they felt that would place them as targets by their peers and NCOs. Having identified that Skinner may have a propensity for young males, the Army posted Skinner to Deepcut without carrying out any form of risk assessment. This placed young males, some already vulnerable through being away from their homes for the first time, in a position of jeopardy. The investigation into the offences for which Skinner was dismissed from the Army appear to have been narrow and did not consider whether there would have been any other victims.[327]

    He confirmed that in the view of Surrey Police there was no connection between the Skinner case and the deaths at Deepcut.[328] MoD states:

      Commanding Officers are not routinely made aware of the previous convictions, spent or otherwise, of individuals in their command, unless there are practical reasons for doing so or the Commanding Officer was responsible for disciplining the individual. The relevant Manning division is responsible for appointing individuals to units. The Manning division will consider suitability based on a number of factors such as entries on conduct sheets (including all offences dealt with by the Military and declared civil convictions). Also evidence of allegations made against individuals would be considered. Each case is judged on merits. Those with a known history of sexual offences and those who we know are on the Sex Offenders Register can be tracked and should not be posted to unsuitable posts (i.e. training establishments).

    220. We recommend that MoD bolster vetting procedures for both civilian and military instructors (see paragraph 71). The case of Leslie Skinner suggests a disturbing level of indifference or incompetence; neither of which is acceptable.


    221. Instructors should pass training courses prior to their appointment. The aspiration, however, is seldom achieved. There are significant manpower costs associated with essential pre-employment training.[329] Colonel Eccles told us that:

      The problem is we have so many staff in the training organisation—5,000 servicemen actually in contact with trainees, which is a large chunk of the Field Army turning over all the time. We would love the incoming person to be trained before he joins, but given he or she would need to be relieved in the Field Army before they do that, it creates a problem.[330]

    222. Instructors from all three Services receive codes of practice that define "acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and also articulate the considerable responsibility that instructors have placed upon them for others' development".[331] MoD is working to produce a Defence Code of Practice for Instructors.[332] ITGIS courses at Lichfield for Army instructors, include a welfare package which covers areas such as self-harm, suicide and homesickness-instructors are taught how to identify recruits who may be at risk, and how to manage such a situation. The Army provides the phase Two Instructor School (PTIS) also based at Lichfield, which has a similar format to ITGIS and extends the subjects of motivation, Health and Safety, Equal Opportunities and Diversity, Welfare and Drugs.[333] RAF instructors have a personal checklist of courses to undertake some of which they must complete in their 3 week induction package before they become instructors; the rest are taken over the first 6-12 months of their appointment.

    223. DOC (1) recommended supervisors be trained in coaching and mentoring skills. That training is provided by the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House for RN and RAF personnel and at the Initial Training Group Instructor School for Army instructors at Lichfield.[334] The Royal Marines established a Coaching Advisory Team in 2002 to help instructors understand performance psychology at high levels. This includes an understanding that different people are motivated by different factors and deal with stress differently and that trainers need to be taught to react to this appropriately. The Defence Centre of Training Support (DCTS) was established in October 2003 by amalgamation of the three service training support units. DCTS provides nine courses under its Coaching and Training Programmes.[335] The Care of Trainees Course is designed to enable trainers to recognise indicators of a variety of welfare problems, develop effective listening and questioning skills; recognise possible conflicts in confidentiality and when to refer trainee personal issues. Instructors are taught counselling, mentoring and coaching skills; and recognition of symptoms that point to stress or potential suicide.[336] The Navy is planning to provide additional training in the "management of distress in trainees", which will be delivered by local NHS community psychiatry departments.[337] We also visited the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre at Amport House, Andover to experience the courses for instructors. We were impressed by the quality of the Chaplain instructors.

    224. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) run courses on 'Working Safely and Managing Safely' that are used by the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Air Force.[338] Mr Waterman said that the Army did not make use of these courses because it believes that it needs to create its own courses due to its unique nature.[339] He argued that the Army was mistaken and that it would benefit from cross-fertilisation with other organisations.[340]

    225. We visited the Initial Training Group Instructor School (ITGIS) at ATR Lichfield to experience at first hand instructor training. The ITGIS was established in 1999 and runs 13 instructor courses a year for up to 66 Army personnel at a time. The care of trainees in Army initial training course is based on the ATRA Code of Practice for Instructors with an emphasis on imparting soft skills such as improved listening skills and ability to spot danger signs in recruits. We also visited the care of trainees in RAF initial training course at RAF Halton. And were particularly impressed by the chaplains leading the duty of care seminars at the centre. Since January 2004, phase 2 instructor training has been run at ATR Lichfield. The school provides specific training for phase 2 instructors, including training to identify those at risk of self-harming. We noted the ability of the Lichfield trainers to demonstrate to instructors the benefits of using 'soft' skills when training recruits. We are keen however that these skills do not remain in the classroom at Lichfield and are maintained through regular refresher courses or workshops. At the time of our visit, we were concerned that there was a large proportion of 2,500 personnel employed as instructors who were yet to receive PTIS training. This was being addressed by PTIS staff visiting training establishments to deliver on site training. We noted the considerable strain this placed on the staff at Lichfield.

    226. The importance of training for instructors and supervisors has been recognised by the Armed Forces' recent actions. Such action taken to address the training needs of instructors and supervisors has helped improve the lot of both trainers and trainees.

    227. Commanding Officers explained to us the difficulties which they faced in ensuring that instructors had received training before taking up their post. However, it is imperative that trainers start their new role fully equipped for the task. MoD should consider how posting arrangements to initial training establishments can be restructured to ensure that sufficient time and resources are available to enable all instructors to receive pre-employment training.


    228. If the Armed Forces wish to attract the best possible individuals to the training organisation then the role of instructor or trainer must be seen as worthwhile in career terms. Professor Chivers referred to the importance of 'instructors' being considered worthwhile posts.[341] In the past, many in the Armed Forces did not consider such posts to be beneficial career moves. Group Captain Howard told us that DOC had found that:

      …although most of the corporal, junior NCO instructors were not volunteers, a tremendous number of the senior NCO instructors had come back as volunteers, having been junior NCO instructors, and it was not until they finished their job that they realised the life skills and the quality of the job they had as an instructor… the more training you put into an instructor and the more skills he is given, the bigger the toolkit he has to go and do that job, the better. And the most motivated instructors, those that were doing the job the best and enjoying the job were those that had the most training and biggest toolkit to go and do that job.[342]

    Brigadier Melvin added:

      A volunteer instructor is normally a better instructor […] than a pressed man. That means not only at the selection process but we have to make sure, as we indicated in the report, that the instructors have to feel valued in their career and given the right kind of rewards. It also depends fundamentally […]that the quality of the young soldiers you got in was dependent on the quality of the instructors you gave from your unit back into the training regime; so what you put in was what you got out, and you had often to exchange the short-term disadvantage of using your best promising junior NCOs because it was absolutely vital to get them into the training organisation. That, I think, is an example of what needs to be done.[343]

    229. Instructors are subject to considerable strains. General Palmer told us that one of his priorities in relation to duty of care was to support those in the training regime. Instructors frequently have similar accommodation and facilities to trainees and are under considerable pressure to maintain standards and throughput of trainees.

    230. Regrettably, during our recent visits to initial training establishments a number of current instructors expressed doubts about the effect of the posting on their career development. MoD argue that the training that instructors now receive improves the perception of the role and that trainers can now see postings to training roles as a valuable part of their career and that the qualifications they achieve in developing as trainers will be useful after they leave the Services.[344] Commanding Officers in the front line should also recognise the benefits of releasing their personnel to training posts. Those returning to field units from training establishments bring a range of skills and experience with them which can be of considerable advantage to front-line units.

    231. We acknowledge the difficult and demanding role undertaken by instructors. The pressures on instructors may affect the quality of training and provision of duty of care. We recommend that MoD bring forward proposals to improve conditions for instructors. We further recommend that the Armed Forces make definite proposals to show that satisfactory completion of an instructor tour will have positive effect on an individual's subsequent career.

    Managing the training regime

    232. Since 2002, the majority of Armed Forces training has been separated, both geographically and organisationally into two phases. Phase 1 is, for all the three Services, characterised by a frenetic pace, during which recruits are swiftly instructed in basic attributes and ethos of their Service. Phase 1 establishments provide a high level of supervision and pastoral care. Phase 2 training offers, for many trades, an extended period of study and testing. Supervision is reduced and trainees are expected to show greater maturity and self-reliance as after phase 2 training they could be posted to operational duty.


    233. Concerns have been expressed about whether recruits are properly prepared by phase 1 for the rigours of phase 2 training. DOC (1) states:

    234. Colonel Strutt found in interviews with instructors a "general feeling that [Corporals] feel unprepared for the experience of training recruits. They are familiar with the challenges presented by trained soldiers in battalions but are surprised at some of the difficulties experienced by recruits, especially the younger, less mature individuals".[346] That difficulty is made more acute by the fact that instructors are concerned that recruits from phase 1 arrive at phase 2 establishments may lack discipline, maturity and the necessary psychological preparation to embark on phase 2 training. We are concerned that in some cases recruits pass out of phase 1 without the necessary preparation to attempt phase 2 training.

    235. Both Surrey Police and DOC have highlighted the detrimental impact of the transition from phase 1 to phase 2 training had on recruits and instructors.[347] The transition between the phases, not only leads to a loss of the sense of purpose engendered during phase 1, but also increases the risks of duty of care failures. That risk can be mitigated by ensuring the phase 2 establishment has a detailed individual assessment of every recruit's performance in phase 1 and any areas of concern are clearly identified. The ATRA Handbook provides for systematic recording and reporting of information throughout training, from initial induction until arrival at the field Army. Each trainee has an individual report on phase 1 performance, which includes welfare and disciplinary material, that is passed to their phase 2 training establishment. DOC (2) found that there had been improvement in the accurate and timely transfer of personal information between phase 1 and phase 2 establishments.[348] For example the Royal Navy now ensures that personal reports and details of trainees' performance are transferred from HMS Raleigh to phase 2 establishments in advance of the trainee's arrival.[349]

    236. Combining, or co-locating the two phases may reduce some of the difficulties that have been experienced, particularly in phase 2 establishments. Mr Corfield told us "to close the gaps between phase 1 and phase 2 training is going to take a great deal of instability, boredom and a time of negative change out of a soldier's early career".[350] General Palmer said that his personal preference would be for phase 1 and phase 2 to be combined across the board, to prevent the "upset" and "instability" introduced after phase 1.[351] While Mr Waterman said "…the seamless transition from phase 1 to phase 2… would be one of the key targets of any significant change in the training regime which would produce a benefit".[352] However, the opportunities for further harmonisation in the Army are limited given the wide range of trades and associated specialist courses.[353] DOC (2) concluded that the institutional division of initial training into two phases limited the extent to which the trajectory could be smoothed. DOC (2) concluded that "substantial improvements" would only be achieved through additional resources.[354]

    237. The division of phase 1 and phase 2 is recent and seems not to have been entirely successful. We recommend that the Armed Forces consider the opportunities for greater integration of the two phases.


    238. There is a lack of continuity between the end of basic training and the start of specialist training in some phase 2 initial training establishments, such as DLC Deepcut, where individuals may be on SATT (Soldiers Awaiting Trade Training) for several weeks or months.[355] That difficulty is largely due to the availability of courses, and is more acute in units that provide a wide range of specialist trade training some of which are linked and need to be taken in a set order. This occurs across the Services (apart from the Royal Marines and ITC Catterick where the two phases are combined) but is more pronounced in the Army, largely because of the numbers of recruits involved and the associated complexities in coordinating the commencement of trade courses with the end of phase 1 training. SATT may be exacerbated by recruits entering phase 1 at a point in time when they will not be able to move seamlessly from the end of basic training to their phase 2 training. We were told that this was a particular problem in the Army, because recruiting officers sign up applicants to enter phase 1 training at the earliest opportunity, without consideration for the likely transition to phase 2 specialist trade training. We were told that in the Royal Navy and RAF, recruiting staff were more willing to tell applicants that they would need to wait for a period before starting phase 1 training, so that the transition to phase 2 was not disjointed. Recruits may be held over for other reasons, such as recovery from injury or illness.

    239. DOC (2) noted that phase 2 establishments in particular were reporting poor morale, skill-fade, and decline in motivation and physical fitness in recruits heldover on SATT.[356] Very often the only activities provided for trainees on SATT are of a menial and unproductive nature. Mr Corfield explained to us that:

      All we know is that it is potentially demotivating for people to be between training or to be on SATT, to be stuck in training establishments or other holding areas which have a very poor physical environment. To be given menial jobs and menial chores while they are there is negative and then to give those people, when they are tired, dangerous equipment, such as a weapon, again, purely from a safety and a welfare point of view does not seem a good thing to us.[357]

    Similarly, Mr Waterman told the Committee:

      …even if the basic training were for longer and you had an even more cohesive unit at the end of it, if you then had this disjunction, with people cooling their heels for a period of weeks, involved in a whole range of desultory tasks which do not seem to relate directly to their personal development and you have diminished the degree of supervision and pastoral care, you would be faced with a problem.[358]

    240. DOC (1) states that "Holdovers during initial training should be reduced wherever possible, but where unavoidable, activity and structured programmes must be energetically lead and properly resourced".[359] On our visits we were told about good practice in addressing SATT and reducing the associated risks of boredom and skill-fade. At RAF Halton and at the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, Bovington innovative modular courses have been introduced for those awaiting trade training. The Commanding Officer at Bovington told us that although SATT levels were still too high, it was now managed more imaginatively. For example, soldiers awaiting trade training for longer than a week undertake a modular course with an emphasis on military skills training. By keeping SATTs occupied with purposeful training, the Commanding Officer felt that trainee soldiers were less likely to experience skill fade, become depressed or disillusioned. 'Pipeline management' techniques such as the good information sharing between HMS Collingwood and HMS Raleigh have also demonstrated how the inflow of recruits to phase 2 establishments can be regulated effectively. We were told on our visit that the maximum SATT at HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan is two weeks. This was ascribed to good communication between the Commanding Officers at HMS Raleigh resulting in HMS Raleigh controlling the inflow of recruits at phase 1. The Royal Navy has reduced the number of trainees awaiting phase 2 training. The Navy has also established Holdover Divisions for phase 2 trainees, in which they are offered a range of activities, such as basic skills courses, which are intended to avoid trainees spending a disproportionate amount of time doing menial tasks.[360]

    241. At RAF Halton, we met staff and recruits in the newly formed Air Development Flight (ADF), which was established in July 2003 in response to the problems of low morale among those held over between training phases. Trainees on the ADF have the opportunity to undertake project work in the community, additional skills training and pre-trade courses. Those on SATT for longer than 6 weeks can expect to do fully supervised, unarmed guarding. Most of the trainees we spoke to welcomed the opportunities to keep up their fitness and brush up any weaknesses in their skills before passing on to trade training. They also told us they appreciated the more mature, equal nature of their relationship with the staff.

    242. The Army seem to be resigned to SATT as a fact of life. We are not persuaded by arguments that SATT is an inherent and unavoidable characteristic of initial training and consider the substantial reduction of SATT levels should be a major priority for MoD. The management of SATT could be improved by, for example, using time held on SATT for additional training, such as improving recruits' basic skills. We recommend that MoD set out guidance on the types of activity that should be encouraged, and funded, for trainees on SATT. The guidance should describe activities to be avoided or limited in application.

    243. The Army explained that SATT derived in part from recruiting practices. We recommend that the Army advise recruits of the implications of starting phase 1 training at a time which will lead to SATT at the start of their phase 2 training. We do not agree with the Army that recruits should not postpone entry. We also recommend that the Army consider restructuring phase 1 and phase 2 in order to diminish SATT by, for example, sending recruits on basic skills courses when they would otherwise be on SATT. We further recommend that MoD apply, across the three Services, the best practice for trainees on SATT we saw at RAF Halton.

    Accommodation and facilities

    244. DOC (3)'s assessment of Army initial training establishment accommodation was "verging on unfit for purpose in its current state of repair".[361] This remains a serious concern. During our visits to Army establishments we saw examples of depressing, shabby and rundown accommodation in poor repair. Recruits we spoke to at Deepcut referred to the depressing environment. We understand the resource constraints individual units are working under and the effect of planning blight associated with the Defence Training Review on the ability of Commanding Officers to improve accommodation. This situation is unlikely to improve for several years, during which lack of space and poor accommodation, particularly when aggravated by anti-social behaviour by other occupants, will have a detrimental effect on soldiers.[362] We were told during several of our visits to initial training establishments that many recruits preferred to live in shared accommodation rather than single-occupancy rooms.

    245. When we visited Royal Navy and RAF establishments, we found that accommodation was generally clean, tidy and well-kept. The difference in the standard of accommodation between those Services and the Army may be linked to the greater throughput of personnel and the length of training courses at Army establishments. It seemed to us that more resources had been made available for accommodation at Royal Navy and RAF establishments.

    246. DOC (1) found second-rate and limited recreational facilities. The re-appraisals found that DOC's recommendations on recreational facilities had not been implemented because of a lack of resources.[363] Colonel Eccles explained that the Army wished to provide more and better sports facilities, additional staff and more internet cafés.[364] He went on to say that:

      There are several institutions which have put in both non-public and public money to improve the recreational areas for recruits. The Council for Voluntary Welfare Workers for example, a number of Christian based organisations such as the Sandys Homes, the Church Army, produce quiet areas, non-alcoholic areas where youngsters can go to relax, watch television, play pool and so on. Those have improved over the last few years as well.[365]

    247. Rear Admiral Goodall told us that there were still infrastructure improvements to be made, for which funds were being sought.[366] Poor accommodation and recreational facilities create a depressing environment and add to feelings of alienation and isolation among recruits and trainees. Poor quality facilities may also increase the prevalence of vandalism and other anti-social behaviour that can undermine morale. We expect MoD to resolve the planning issues that have blighted infrastructure improvements as a matter of urgency.

    Monitoring and Data Collection

    248. Following recommendations from DOC (1), ATRA introduced a trial initial training exit survey, with a view to creating a harmonised tri-Services survey.[367] The survey is administered by training staff, but run and analysed by MORI.[368] All trainees have the opportunity to fill in the survey when they leave training, even if they are leaving before completing the course.[369] There have been individual surveys in the past which were described to us as 'snapshots' that could not be used to make comparisons.[370]

    249. The Surrey Police Final Report stated that they had found little evidence in their investigations of the Army collecting data in a systematic way to assist in measuring performance and identifying successes and failures.[371] Chief Superintendent Denholm told us that:

      What we found was missing fundamentally was a cyclical approach, if you like, to policy development and implementation. There was evidence of identifying issues and review, but there was very little evidence of substantive action being taken in relation to that. Then another report would come along, another issue would be raised, another review would come in, but again that final element of this cyclical approach was missing throughout the vast majority of the areas of work that we identified.[372]

    Colonel Eccles agreed that in the past the Army's "data capture hitherto has been less than perfect".[373]

    250. Rear Admiral Goodall explained that instructor's performance was monitored within the training establishment by commanding officers and by the training organisations. In addition, he told us, staff from DCTS:

      will have a standards and monitoring role and go out and have a look at the application of this, not least to feed back good practice into the training and, secondly, for the standards we require for accreditation we will need to have review processes which ensure that the accrediting authorities are satisfied that the skills and competencies people are developing are appropriate for that accreditation.[374]

    251. We are pleased to note the initiatives flowing from the new staff of DCTS. We are nonetheless concerned by the extent of the responsibilities apparently being allocated to a small number of people. It is difficult to see how a central MoD staff, already charged with training policy formulation, joint Services co-ordination and ensuring speedy circulation of best practice can devote enough time to visit training units with sufficient frequency and time allocation to perform a credible "standards and monitoring role". We look forward to seeing how DCTS staff will interact with existing single Services staffs responsible for establishing and maintaining instructor standards.

    252. We have found patchy data collection to be a problem throughout this inquiry. MoD should produce a comprehensive list of issues for which data is lacking and prioritise the need for data collection in relation to each item.

    197   DOC (2), para 7. Back

    198   Ibid Back

    199   Ev 235 Back

    200   The Defence Management Board approved £23.225 million in STP 04. The Royal Navy received £6.118 million; the Army £16.483 million and the RAF £0.624 million. Back

    201   Q 1364 Back

    202   Q 1367 Back

    203   Ev 1367 Back

    204   Ev 333 Back

    205   Ev 386ff Back

    206   DOC (2), para 47. Back

    207   Q 84 Back

    208   DOC (1), paras 41ff, DOC (2), paras 27-29. Back

    209   Ibid, paras 9-22 Back

    210   Ev 243, 246, 278-279 Back

    211   Q 73 Back

    212   Q 810 Back

    213   Ev 276, 280-282, 291-292 Back

    214   Ministry of Defence, Basically fair, Equality & Diversity in the British Army Back

    215   DOC (2), para 14 Back

    216   Ev 282 Back

    217   Q 33; Ev 234, 268. See also Recruit/Trainee Management of Expectations, FOTR's NRTA Staff Guide. Back

    218   Ev 345 Back

    219   Q 839 Back

    220   Ev 294 Back

    221   Ibid Back

    222   DOC (2), para 12. Back

    223   See paragraphs 50-58 Back

    224   Ev 264-265 Back

    225   Q 1318 Back

    226   Q 1110 Back

    227   Qq 1110, 1159-1162 Back

    228   Ev 467 Back

    229   Ibid Back

    230   DOC (2), para 13. Back

    231   Ev 276-277 Back

    232   Ibid Back

    233   Ibid Back

    234   Q 74 Back

    235   Q 73 Back

    236   Ev 366 Back

    237   Ev 264 Back

    238   Ev 266 Back

    239   Ev 266 Back

    240   Ev 267 Back

    241   Ev 269 Back

    242   Ibid Back

    243   Ibid Back

    244   Q 1338 Back

    245   Ev 438 Back

    246   DOC (2), para 13 Back

    247   Q 169 Back

    248   Q 902 Back

    249   Qq 371-372 Back

    250   Q 896 Back

    251   Q 9 Back

    252   Q 144 Back

    253   Ev 366 Back

    254   Q 1344 Back

    255   DOC (2), para 12. Back

    256   Ibid, para 16 Back

    257   Ibid, para 30 Back

    258   Q 898 Back

    259   Q 902 Back

    260   Ev 267; See also Q 1345 Back

    261   Q 1342 Back

    262   Q 188 Back

    263   Ev 378, 403 Back

    264   Ev 382 Back

    265   Ibid Back

    266   Ev 386 Back

    267   Qq 1045-1047 Back

    268   Q169 Back

    269   Q 647 Back

    270   Ev 265, 284-287 Back

    271   Qq 1049-1053 Back

    272   Ibid Back

    273   DOC (2), para 12 Back

    274   HC Deb, 7 December 2004, col 79WS. Back

    275   Ev 400 Back

    276   Ev 399 Back

    277   Ev DOC 13. In addition to SSAFA's helpline there are several unofficial advice lines and websites run by former servicemen or the families of personnel who have died in the Armed Forces. Back

    278   Ev 384 Back

    279   DOC (2) para 17. Back

    280   Ev 267, 366 Back

    281   Ev 476 Back

    282   Ev 267, 476-477 Back

    283   Ev 476-477 Back

    284   Ibid Back

    285   Ibid Back

    286   DOC (2), para 46 Back

    287   Ibid, para 12 Back

    288   Q 45 Back

    289   Ev 312 Back

    290   Ibid Back

    291   313 Back

    292   DOC (3), para 13. See also DOC (1). Back

    293   Ev 458. See also Ev 352 Back

    294   Ev 425, 459, 465 Back

    295   DOC (1), para 99. See also Ev 365, 496 Back

    296   Ev 423-424 Back

    297   Qq 1057-1059, Ev 426 Back

    298   Q 914 Back

    299   Qq 1009-1010 Back

    300   DOC (2), para 17; Ev 471 Back

    301   DOC (1), paras 97-98; Ev 366 Back

    302   Ibid Back

    303   Ev 286 Back

    304   Ev 301 Back

    305   DOC (1) para 45ff, DOC (2), para 34ffBack

    306   Q 152 Back

    307   See DOC (2) 34ff Back

    308   Q 93 Back

    309   Ev 364 Back

    310   Normal Working Hours are typically 0800 to 1700 hours; Out of hours, off duty is time spent in the training establishment outside normal working hours and silent hours. Out of hours, silent hours are typically 2300 to 0600 hours. Back

    311   Ev 364 Back

    312   Q 11 Back

    313   HL Deb,17 January 2005, col 565 Back

    314   Ev 263, 364. Working hours are 0830 to 1600, Monday to Friday. Back

    315   HC Deb, 15 December 2004, col 1159W. See also Ev 364. Back

    316   Q 30; DOC (3), para 15ff; Ev 340, 353 Back

    317   Q 215 Back

    318   Q 123; Ev 272. See also Ev 346, 347 Back

    319   DOC (2), para 31. Back

    320   See DOC (3), para 66. Back

    321   Ev 272 Back

    322   Ev 274 Back

    323   Ev 419 Back

    324   Q 10 Back

    325   Ev 499 Back

    326   Ev 272 Back

    327   Ev 275 Back

    328   Q 727 Back

    329   Ev 346, 347; DOC (2), paras 52. Back

    330   Q 1350 Back

    331   Ev 273 Back

    332   Ibid Back

    333   Ev 274 Back

    334   Ev 273; See DOC (1), paras 63-64. Back

    335   Foundation Instructional Techniques; Advanced Instructional Techniques 1, Coaching and Motivation, Care of Trainees; Conduct of Trainee Assessment; Advanced Instructional Techniques 2; Supervision and Coaching of instructors; Train the Trainer; On-the-Job Training Course; Presentation Techniques. Back

    336   Q 124 Back

    337   Ev 275 Back

    338   Ev 395 Back

    339   Q 170  Back

    340   Ibid Back

    341   Q 215 Back

    342   Q 816 Back

    343   Ibid Back

    344   Q 127 Back

    345   DOC (1), paras 43-44 Back

    346   "I'm your mother now", p 62 Back

    347   Ev 421; DOC (2), para 27. Back

    348   DOC (2), para 14. Back

    349   Q 33; Ev 268 Back

    350   Q 176 Back

    351   Q 93 Back

    352   Q 177 Back

    353   DOC (2), para 14. Back

    354   Ibid Back

    355   See Ev 254 Back

    356   DOC (2), para 8. Back

    357   Q 176 Back

    358   Q 177 Back

    359   DOC (1) para 48. Back

    360   Ev 268 Back

    361   See 346; DOC (3), para 58. Back

    362   "I'm your mother now", p 58 Back

    363   Ev 341; DOC (1), para 88ff; DOC (2), para 43ff; DOC (3) para 21 ffBack

    364   Q 46 Back

    365   Qq 40ff Back

    366   Q 51; See Ev 341, 346 Back

    367   Qq 41-48, Ev 287, 288. DOC (1), para 69 Back

    368   Qq 42, 1327 Back

    369   Q 43 Back

    370   QQ 1327-1337 Back

    371   Ev 421-422 Back

    372   Q 669 Back

    373   Q 1327 Back

    374   Q 129 Back

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