How could I let last night’s episode of The Accused, shown on BBC1, go by without making a comment? It is impossible to know the extent of the bullying that takes place in the armed forces; the representation in the drama seemed authentic however extreme it was.
After the show last night I listened on the radio to Patrick Mercer, a Conservative Party MP in the UK and former infantry officer in the army. He readily acknowledged that bullying is a regular feature in the forces, though when pushed by the interviewer to give details and any specifics, he resisted and left it fairly vague, suggesting that he had witnessed it in recruiting barracks but not in action.
If this sort of treatment of recruits and service personnel really goes on, surely it should be addressed by those in power. In the television drama, the officers turned a blind eye and, by so doing, they condoned the behaviour. Is this the message that we want to see on our screens? I think not.
Bullying when witnessed, wherever and whenever, needs to be challenged. I believe that a representation to the Ministry of Defence asking them for a statement on bullying would be appropriate. Do they know this behaviour goes on? Do they see it as an acceptable part of military training and participation or is it just another form of collateral damage?
Perhaps someone in authority might read this blog and leave a comment. Some chance!