Dorset

Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement hanging: MoD pledges training changes

Anne-Marie Ellement (C) with sisters Khristina Swain (L) and (R) Sharon Hardy Image copyright Family handout via Liberty
Image caption A review into Suicide Vulnerability Risk Assessment (SVRM) training was prompted by the inquest of Bournemouth corporal Anne-Marie Ellement

Better training is needed for those dealing with vulnerable soldiers judge a suicide risk, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

It comes after the inquest of Bournemouth corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, who was found hanged in her Wiltshire barracks in October 2011.

In a letter, defence minister Anna Soubry said training would improve and the forces' code of practice updated.

Ms Ellement's family said it showed she did not "die in vain".

'Policy clear'

The inquest, held in March, found bullying and the effect of an alleged rape were factors in Ms Ellement's suicide and coroner Nicholas Rheinberg called for the MoD to review its care for vulnerable soldiers.

In the letter shown to the BBC, Ms Soubry responded to concerns raised during the hearings.

"While we believe that our SVRM (Suicide Vulnerability Risk Assessment) policy is clear and well written, we recognise that both the initial and follow up training provided to personnel who fulfil the role of SVRM unit lead is insufficient and needs to be improved," she said.

The length of the Unit Welfare Officers' (UWO) course will be extended by two days to include a two day mental health first aid course and all career courses for those dealing with SVRM issues will focus on practical procedures and case study reviews, Ms Soubry added.

'Better understanding'

The Armed Forces' code of practice will be updated to take into account rape allegations that involve personnel from the same unit.

Ms Ellement's sister Sharon Hardy, said she was pleased with the response.

"I think this is one step towards a better understanding," she said.

"I don't think there was any understanding of mental health issues.

"I don't think there was any understanding of victims of crime, how to deal with them and I think Anne-Marie's case has highlighted that massive grey area they have and I hope that moving forward there will be a better understanding now.

"If people's lives can be made better in the armed forces I think she will feel she didn't die in vain."

Brigadier John Donnelly, the army's director of personal services, confirmed a number of improvements were being made and added: "Many of these changes reflect lessons learned from the inquest.

"Whilst some will take time to implement, we are committed to getting this right so we can help prevent this kind of tragedy in the future."

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