'Adopt it nationally!' Ross Kemp backs initiative to reduce veteran suicide rates

Ross Kemp appearing on GB News earlier today

Ross Kemp appearing on GB News earlier today

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 09/11/2023

- 20:25

The ex-EastEnders star is supporting the Forcer Protocol ahead of its trial run in Greater Manchester

Ross Kemp has thrown his weight behind a new initiative which hopes to reduce suicide rates among former members of the Armed Forces.

The ex-EastEnders star joined Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer and Rayleigh & Wickford MP Mark Francois to discuss ways to address the crisis impacting ex-military personnel.

Claire Lilly, who lost her veteran husband Alan Forcer to suicide during the pandemic, addressed the meeting held to launch the Forcer Protocol.

The Forcer Protocol is being trialled by Greater Manchester Police for six months from November 11.

WATCH NOW: Ross Kemp discusses the Forcer Protocol

It will push officers to follow dedicated procedures in a bid to prevent suicide attempts by veterans who go missing.

The Forcer Protocol also hopes to help former members of the Armed Forces receive support.

Supporters of the initiative are pushing police forces across the United Kingdom to adopt the scheme following Greater Manchester’s trial.

Kemp, who is a patron at Help for Heroes, told GB News: “The most important thing when anyone goes missing is time and understanding the profile of that person.

Mark Francois, Johnny Mercer, Claire Lilley and Ross Kemp

Mark Francois, Johnny Mercer, Claire Lilley and Ross Kemp


“The Forcer Protocol is something that Claire has come up with to make sure that the officers that are trying to find a veteran … know that that person is a veteran or has served.

“And they can have an idea of what medication they may be on, what personal issues they may have right now, whether they’re using alcohol, whether they’re using drugs, all the things that can help the officers help locate that person as fast as possible.”

He also revealed police would not have automatic access to the information but could be made aware of any problems via a code once a veteran is reported missing.

The 59-year-old, who urged the Government to back “adopting this at a national level”, encouraged Britons to show support for veterans in the build-up to Armistice Day.

A collection of poppiesA collection of poppiesPA

Kemp said: “I would urge people to buy a poppy or to support a military charity if the Royal British Legion isn’t the one that you choose, particularly at this time because, we only do it for two weeks in the whole year, when we remember the sacrifices of others that have allowed us to have the liberty and live in the democracy that we do.”

Lilly added: “There are various measures that can be put into place to prevent suicides, particularly within the veteran sector, from happening.

“My key message would be that due to the fragmented nature of the veteran welfare landscape it is imperative that there is a multi-sector approach.”

She continued: “Depressingly, with the sector of veterans that actually go missing or contemplate taking their own lives, they are often the forgotten tragedy of war because when the guns go silent, the battle begins.”

Francois, who is also chairman of the European Research Group, explained why he is also supporting the Forcer Protocol.

Conservative Party MP Mark Francois speaks in the chamber of the House of Commons, WestminsterConservative Party MP Mark Francois speaks in the chamber of the House of Commons, WestminsterPA

He 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.”

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