HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 cc69-70W
Mr. McNamara

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the rank of officer is who is responsible for suicide prevention at(a) Deepcut Barracks, Surrey and (b) Catterick Barracks, Yorkshire. [78794]

Mr. Ingram

The responsibility for the welfare of recruits, including the identification of those who may be vulnerable to self-harm, rests with the entire chain of command. All staff are aware of the need to identify those who may be vulnerable and an army suicide prevention pamphlet, issued in January 2001, is widely available through the chain of command.

Soldiers are encouraged to discuss any issues of concern and may seek advice from a number of individuals including their immediate superiors, the regimental medical office, Padre, unit welfare officer, Local Army Welfare Worker or Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) welfare officer. WRVS staff are concentrated at the army's training establishments and provide regular, informal contact with recruits. Regular case conferences are held by these agencies to identify any soldiers who may be particularly vulnerable.

If a soldier wishes to remain entirely anonymous they may ring the army's confidential support line, which has been in operation since December 1997 under the guidance of the Samaritans. Telephone charges are free to the caller from anywhere in the world and the line is widely publicised throughout the army community.