DEFENCE BULLYING REPORT - RAF Worst of the Three Services

DEFENCE BULLYING REPORT - RAF Worst of the Three Services"

A recent report by the Equal Opportunities Audit Team has found that
allegations of "a culture of widespread bullying and brutality" within the
British Forces are, in the most part, unfounded. The audit team, which
travelled to every Defence establishment across the UK and abroad and
interviewed staff from all three services, found surprisingly few cases of
unfair treatment and bullying within the Army and Navy.

When it came to the Airforce, however, the report told a different story.
Complaints to the EOAT came from a total of 13,555 RAF members, compared
with three from Navy and just one from Army.

While this statistic is alarming in its own right, it becomes horrific when
one considers that each complaint represents a sad story of abuse,
mistreatment and neglect. As one senior RAF officer put it, "Each story is,
in itself, a sad indictment on the RAF. When taken as a whole, however, they
demonstrate a reprehensible lack of regard for personnel on the part of RAF
managers at all levels."

One young pilot told of having to spend two nights in tented accommodation,
despite the fact that there was an empty five-star hotel just 1km away.

Another said that he had been forced to endure a gruelling fitness test
every year since he joined in 1997.

One airwoman alleged that she had been overlooked for promotion on numerous
occasions, simply because she was fat, lazy and stupid.

An aircraftman stated he had been refused permission to wear civilian attire
to work, despite the fact that his uniform clashed with his eye colour.

Another had been forced to wear uncomfortable safety boots for periods of up
to eight hours straight.

An RAF clerk could not understand why she had been sent to work in a Joint
military headquarters, “I have been forced to work for horrid Army people
who just don’t understand what the military is all about. I feel the RAF
has victimised me by forcing me to do this…I will be seeking compensation…”

Shockingly, RAF Senior Ranks are also subject to mistreatment. One SNCO
Flight Sergeant stated, “I was deeply upset when I was addressed as ‘Flight
Sergeant’ by an officer. He knew my name was Robert. It was just horrible
– I have never been more humiliated in my life.” In response a senior RAF
officer stated, “the officer in question has been moved on…”.

A number of personnel complained of having to attend courses that were not
relevant to their jobs, such as rigorous ground combat courses and drawn-out
lectures on occupational health and safety. To add insult to injury, a young
corporal was even ordered to pack up chairs in the classroom after one such

The huge backlash against treatment of Air Force personnel should provide
senior officers with a vital clue with regard to the massive retention
problems experienced by the RAF in recent times. Over the past two years,
Defence has spent some £19.8 million looking into the issue.

Not all of the Air Force's hierarchy, however, were upset by the
revelations. Said outgoing Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir
Errol Flynn, KCB CBE DSO ADC BSc(Eng) FRAeS RAF, "I'm delighted with the
result. I am very happy that our retention problems are due, in the most
part at least, to something as harmless as bullying. I thought everyone was
leaving because of me."

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