Rayleigh and Wickford MP, Mark Francois, chaired a conference at Westminster today, attended by television star Ross Kemp and Veterans Minister for the Cabinet Office, Johnny Mercer MP, to discuss ways to reduce suicide rates among Armed Forces veterans.
The conference was called to help launch the ‘Forcer Protocol,’ named after former soldier, Alan Forcer, who unfortunately took his own life several years ago. The meeting was addressed by Claire Lilly, Alan’s Widow, who has worked tirelessly since his death to raise the issue of veteran’s suicide and what more can be done to prevent it.
The Forcer Protocol, which was strongly endorsed by Veterans Minister, Johnny Mercer MP, on behalf of the Government, is being trialed by Greater Manchester Police and will go live at 07.00 on Armistice Day, Saturday 11th November. The protocol is a new system whereby police forces will have dedicated procedures to help prevent suicide attempts by veterans and to help such people receive support. It is hoped that if the trial by Greater Manchester Police, which is due to last six months, is successful the Forcer Protocol can then be rolled out to police forces across the United Kingdom, including Essex Police.
Commenting on the event Mark said:
“It was great to be joined at Westminster today by the veterans minister for the Cabinet Office, Johnny Mercer MP, and Ross Kemp, who is patron to a number of a number of service charities, including ‘Safe and Found Online’, who provide IT support to the Forcer Protocol. Unfortunately, the latest data shows that around 50 veterans took their own lives last year, so we are talking about one a week.
This protocol, should mean that police forces, working with the families of veterans who may be at risk, can respond far quicker to those who are at serious risk of suicide. Hopefully, as a result, many lives will be saved in the future. I particularly want to commend my constituent, Claire Lilly for her absolutely tireless dedication over the last few years to make this system a reality."