WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8: Soldiers are as safe as possible from harassment and bullying at Warwick Camp, Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lt Col. Brian Gonsalves said yesterday.
Col. Gonsalves added the Regiment had introduced new training with an emphasis on anti-bullying and anti-harassment in line with UK military law and European human rights legislation.
He said the Regiment had also recruited a former RAF officer with experience in personnel, complaints and equality and diversity training who had helped modernise service rules and regulations.
Col. Gonsalves was speaking after The Royal Gazette reported that former Regiment officer Glenn Brangman was convicted of four separate assaults on a young male employee at the Bermuda Housing Corporation, where Brangman was general manager.
Col. Gonsalves confirmed that he was aware that Brangman, 59, had also been the subject of a string of complaints of sexual misconduct from male soldiers before he was discharged from the Regiment in 2002.
Col. Gonsalves said: “I wasn’t the CO then, but from my investigations and talking to former COs, the claims were investigated at that time.
“It appears that the police were called in on two occasions.
“Some allegations were sent to the police and then it was out of the Regiment’s control.”
Col. Gonsalves said the Regiment had changed dramatically in the ten years since Brangman, a former Regiment Major, was discharged by Regiment Commander-in-Chief, the Governor. The Governor acted in 2002 on the advice of the then-CO, Lt Col David Gibbons.
Col Gonsalves said: “Every soldier now has to do annual training on our values and standards and the recruit training team get that training first. There is anti-bullying and anti-harassment training across the Regiment.
“We’ve changed the grievance procedure and it’s very clear when something happens what has to be done. We have not only brought in new training and tightened up the reporting process, but brought in an expert who oversees and delivers training.”
Col Gonsalves added that if the soldier making a complaint is not satisfied with the outcome, they have the right to lodge a grievance.
He said: “In matters where there is likely to be a criminal element, we have to ensure that whatever allegation is made actually occurred. A preliminary enquiry is held and if it is established something happened, we inform the police.”
Col Gonsalves added: “I have stated clearly that, no matter the rank, this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated. I personally believe we’re all professionals here and we know what’s right and wrong. There is a different atmosphere now.
“We are taking preventative measures and we’ve made it crystal clear in the grievance structure and when the police need to become involved.”
Col Gonalves said that he could recall only one allegation of harassment that was referred to the police since he became the CO in 2009.
He added: “That was a matter which could have been criminal, so we handed it to the police. The complainer subsequently withdrew the charges.”
He said: “We have nothing to hide at the Regiment – we understand there are always going to be issues, that we aren’t perfect and we need to work to fix things. It’s a constant battle.
“The key is that we have implemented preventative measures to deal with things like bullying, harassment and discrimination and made our grievances procedures clearer. We want to make the Regiment a good experience for the people who join us.
“The police can’t always prevent a murder from happening, but they can take steps to reduce the risk of a murder happening. We can’t prevent always stop someone from doing something wrong — but we can minimise the risk and that’s what we’ve done.
“The system works and I’m proud of that system. It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do.”