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Armed Forces Complaints System Is Not "Effective, Efficient Or Fair"

The 2017 Annual Report was laid in Parliament today...

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Cover image: PA

The Ombudsmen for Service Complaints has said that good progress has been made in the complaints system for members of the Armed Forces, but it is still not efficient, effective or fair.

The 2017 Annual Report was laid in Parliament today, revealing that although the second year of operation for the Office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman has seen improvements to the new system, there is still much work to be done.

To address this, the Ombudsman has made a further ten recommendations for improvement to the system.

Watch: Service Complaints Ombudsman Nicola Williams tells Forces News she believes change is possible

These recommendations, which cover issues ranging from updating the Joint Service Publications that guide the complaints process, to how compensatory payments should be made, will run alongside the ten ongoing recommendations from the Ombudsman’s 2016 report.

The Ombudsman provides independent and impartial oversight of the Service complaints system.

The primary way in which she does this is through her powers of referral and investigation.

The Service Complaints Ombudsman, Nicola Williams said:

“The reformed Service complaints system is a significant improvement on its predecessor. However, there is still work to be done before I can assess it as efficient, effective and fair.

“I remain concerned about the overrepresentation of female and BAME personnel as complainants, and also the persisting culture of viewing complaints as a negative event rather than a positive opportunity to correct potential failings.

“In addition, there is inadequate staffing in many different areas, including my office, which is causing delay.

“Despite this, I continued to be impressed by the ongoing commitment shown by the Ministry of Defence and the single Service towards the reformed complaints system and introducing further improvement.

“My team and I remain committed to delivering independent oversight of the Service complaints process and helping to build a system that all Service personnel can have confidence in.”