against military to become crime
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Government is to bring in new laws making it a criminal offence to
discriminate against people in military uniform and impose extra
penalties on those convicted of assault or harassment of service
new legislation will be among 40 recommendations in a report adopted
by the Government, including an Armed Forces Day bank holiday and a
drive to enrol state school pupils into cadet forces.
report, National Recognition of our Armed Forces, was compiled by
the MP Quentin Davies at the request of the Prime Minister, Gordon
Brown, and attempts to address what is seen as a lack of knowledge
about the military.
study suggests that the media and parliamentarians should have more
open access to military personnel and an officer should be stationed
at the House of Commons to give technical advice to MPs over laws
involving the services. There are further recommendations for
raising awareness about the military in the national curriculum and
holding homecoming parades for troops returning from combat zones.
introduction of the new laws, the most controversial of the
measures, follows a small number of high-profile incidents in which
service personnel have been barred from premises and others abused
in public. In one instance, an Army officer in uniform was refused
entry to Harrods department store on Remembrance Day and, on another
occasion, RAF personnel were abused on a street in Peterborough.
Existing legislation covers cases of harassment and intimidation,
but the report suggests that targeting the military should be viewed
as an aggravating factor to be considered in sentencing. The Armed
Forces minister, Bob Ainsworth, said that talks will be held with
the Crown Prosecution Service over the legislation.
National Union of Teachers voted at its annual conference this year
to oppose military recruitment in schools because it often employed
"misleading propaganda". Mr Ainsworth insisted that motions passed
by the NUT "did not necessarily reflect the views of all schools and
teachers and this would not be detrimental" to the setting up of
cadet forces at state schools.
Balls, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools, and said: "I
believe Combined Cadet Forces can make a huge difference ... This is
not just about recruitment, this is about personal development and
Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "An Armed
Forces Day is welcome, but it will ring hollow for those forces
families who put up with sub-standard housing."