Written evidence submitted by Dr Rachel Fenton, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter Law School and Speak Out Guardian, University of Exeter

My professional expertise lies in the filed of prevention of sexual and domestic violence, prevention of sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviours and microaggressions, and the law on sexual offences. I have been researching, developing and evaluation bystander approaches to violence prevention since 2014 and am a leader in the field in the UK. I contributed to the very welcome Wigston Review into Inappropriate behaviours.

It is clear that women defence personnel face significant challenges in terms of gender-based violence and inappropriate behaviours rooted in gender inequality.


Survey development

Recommendation 1: External researchers in the field should be involved in survey development to ensure best research practice is adopted


Bystander intervention for prevention of inappropriate behaviours including sexual violence and harassment


The Wigston Review recommendation 2.4 reads “Investigate, develop and implement appropriate bystander training across Defence.”


Recommendation 2: External researchers who experts in design, delivery and evaluation should be consulted about bystander prevention across defence to ensure best research evidence and practice is incorporated


Recommendation 3: Bystander training should be properly evaluated using psychometric measures and mapping onto extant literature in the field.


Recommendation 4: A contemporaneous social norms marketing campaign is indicated



Recommendation 5: Bystander training should be rolled out at officer training because leadership behaviours are a powerful risk and protective factor


Effective prevention goes hand in hand with effective reporting systems in which women are supported and believed, and have trust in the system.


28 February 2021




Fenton, R.A et al 2016, Review of evidence, Public Health England https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/515634/Evidence_review_bystander_intervention_to_prevent_sexual_and_domestic_violence_in_universities_11April2016.pdf


Fenton, R.A. and Mott, H.L., 2018. Evaluation of the intervention initiative: a bystander intervention program to prevent violence against women in universities. Violence and victims, 33(4), pp.645-662.

Gainsbury, A.N., Fenton, R.A. and Jones, C.A., 2020. From campus to communities: evaluation of the first UK-based bystander programme for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse in general communities. BMC public health, 20, pp.1-11.

Holland, K.J., Rabelo, V.C. and Cortina, L., 2016. See something, do something: Predicting sexual assault bystander intentions in the US military. American journal of community psychology, 58(1-2), pp.3-15.

Kovalenko and Fenton, 2021 “Bystander intervention in football and sports. A quasi-experimental feasibility study of a bystander violence prevention program in the UK (under review)

Sadler, A.G., Booth, B.M., Cook, B.L. and Doebbeling, B.N., 2003. Factors associated with women's risk of rape in the military environment. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 43(3), pp.262-273.