Portsmouth MP slams government after latest blow to veteran suicide campaign

A CITY MP has slammed the government for a 'time-wasting blame game' after it said it would not be able to produce data on veteran suicides in the UK.

Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 11:28 am
MP Stephen Morgan accused the government of a 'time-wasting blame game'. Picture: Sarah Standing (180724-5649)

Calls to gather 'vital' information on deaths within the ex-forces community have been dealt a blow when a minister said the process not possible 'for a number of practical and administrative reasons.'

After an investigation, led by The News and parent company JPIMedia, revealed the number of veterans killing themselves is not recorded Portsmouth councillor and MP Stephen Morgan, backed by campaigners, lobbied the government for change.

Campaigners and Mr Morgan branded a recent letter from MP Mark Lancaster, minister of state for the armed forces, disappointing but pledged to 'keep pushing.'

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Daniel Arnold and Stephen James, founders of armed forces support network All Call Signs. Photo: Ian Hargreaves

Mr Morgan said: 'Back in April, when I hosted a Westminster Hall debate calling for veteran suicide to be recorded, the government minister responsible told me that the obstacle to making these changes was coroners’ “fierce independence”.

'When I wrote out to all 98 coroners in the country asking for more information, I found out that this was not the case.

'The government has not only refused to implement the much-needed recording of veteran suicide, it has engaged in a time-wasting blame game that has seen the buck endlessly passed.'

For former serviceman and co-founder of Portsmouth-based veteran charity All Call Signs, Stephen James, the information was crucial.

He said: 'Unfortunately the third sector services that are helping veterans are always going to be undermanned and underfunded and they're never going to have the resources they need until the data on veteran suicides is there. It's like putting a plaster on a shotgun wound.

'The government has said again and again how they have massively underestimated the number of suicides there are.

'Getting this data is the first domino that has to fall for there to be a change. Let's not forget these are men and women who have been sent into the middle of war zones in the past, we have a duty of care towards them.'

The government recently announced a new office for veterans affairs would be included in the cabinet office to 'provide greater focus on veteran suicides.'