Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Description of complaints procedures; numbers made and outcomes


  All recruits are instructed in the complaints' procedure through the ATRA Code and the pamphlet "Basically fair". In outline there are two procedures—Informal & Formal.

  The informal procedure involves seeking advice from either the chain of command or the padre, medical officer, WRVS lady or Equal Opportunity advisor and getting them to negotiate a resolution to the complaint.

  The formal complaint procedure involves writing a formal submission to the commanding officer. The letter must be submitted within three months of the last incident occurring. The complaint has to include a description of the incident, how it effected the complainant and what action he wants to be taken. The recruit is encouraged to obtain assistance, either from his platoon commander or Padre or WRVS lady, in composing the letter.

  On receipt of the letter, the CO is bound to investigate the matter and call in outside agencies such as the Royal Military Police to investigate, if necessary. A formal written response must be made to the complainant detailing the outcome of the investigation. If the complainant is unhappy with the result, he may request for the complaint to be passed up the chain of command.

  The complainant may submit his case to an industrial tribunal within six months of the last incident. However there is a legal requirement for service personnel to submit an internal redress of complaint before submitting an application to an employment tribunal.

  Currently no record is kept on an ATRA wide basis; however units maintain a comprehensive register of all their cases. Serious complaints, ie those not dealt with internally in the training establishment, are reported up the discipline chain of command and are recorded on the Army Casebook Database. HQ ATRA is able to monitor this database in regard to cases/complaints involving individuals under command.


Synopsis of RAF Complaints Procedures:

    —  All procedures for complaints are in accordance with RAF EO Policy.

    —  Policy of resolution at lowest level adopted.

    —  All interviews are followed up with a record of interview, signed by and placed on the individual's personal file.

    —  All action taken as a result of an informal complaint is recorded and placed on the individual's personal file.

    —  If a complaint is formalised, normal Stn investigation channels are followed.

    —  All formal complaints are reported to Command HQs.

    —  Appropriate sanctions taken against perpetrators of harassment or discrimination.

Number of Complaints and Outcomes (by RAF establishment)

  Units not included in the information below have confirmed that they have received no C&D complaints over the three year period.


    —  Five Complaints of bullying:

    —  Three resolved by mutual agreement.

    —  One investigated by P&SS and found to be unsubstantiated.

    —  One resulted in a Written Warning.

    —  14 Complaints of harassment:

    —  11 resolved by mutual agreement.

    —  Two investigated by Stn but not upheld by Deciding Officer.

    —  One incident ceased.


    —  Eight Complaints of bullying:

    —  Three resolved by mutual agreement.

    —  One investigated by Stn and Redress of Complaint being staffed.

    —  Two resulted in formal interview.

    —  One investigated by Stn. Decision was "horseplay" between trainees.

    —  One investigated by Stn and resulted in one x trainee dismissed, one x back-coursed and two     x placed on Station Commanders' review.

    —  Nine Complaints of harassment:

    —  Six resolved by mutual agreement.

    —  One investigated and found to be unsubstantiated.

    —  One no evidence found and staff member denied allegations.

    —  One investigated by Stn and upheld by Deciding Officer. Formal Interview.

    —  10 Complaints of a sexual nature:

    —  Four resolved by mutual consent.

    —  One staff member admitted to comments and agreed to undertake further Equal     Opportunities training.

    —  One action by RIAT personnel.

    —  One resulted in discharge after investigation.

    —  One investigated and concluded that both trainees were engaged in consensual sexual activity.     Corroborated by other witnesses.

    —  One investigated and resulted in staff member being posted.

    —  One investigation upheld. Recommended perpetrator discharged from Service. Perpetrator     later submitted Voluntary Withdrawal for Service.

    —  Three complaints of unfair verbal treatment:

    —  One investigated and revealed that the Instructor acted appropriately. Corroborated by     witnesses.

    —  One investigated and found that trainee was argumentative and obtrusive. However, Duty     NCO found to have sworn at trainee. JNCO interviewed.

    —  One resulted in JNCO undertaking remedial Equal Opportunities training.

    —  One Complaint of bullying and harassment:

    —  Investigation continuing. Brief currently being drafted by Deciding Officer.


    —  One Complaint of bullying:

    —  Investigation by RAF Police ongoing.

    —  Four Complaints of harassment:

    —  Three investigated and no evidence was revealed.

—  One investigation upheld complaint. Staff member issued Informal Warning.


    —  Two Complaints of bullying:

—  One resulted in perpetrator being relocated and given counselling.

—  One resulted in perpetrator being interviewed.

    —  Two Complaints of a sexual nature:

—  One resulted in perpetrator being issued Formal Warning.

—  One resulted in perpetrator being reprimanded.

    —  One Complaint of a racial harassment:

Perpetrator issued Informal Warning.


  Any member of the Naval Service who believes he/she has been wronged in any matter relating to his/her Service may exercise his/her statutory right to make a complaint. Complaints have to be submitted by the individual, within three months of the occurrence, to his/her superior—normally his/her Commanding Officer. Each individual must make his/her own complaint; joint complaints by two or more persons are forbidden and anonymous complaints are to be disregarded. If the complainant is an officer of junior rank or a rating, he/she may request an officer in his/her ship to advise him/her and assist him/her in the statement of his/her case at all stages. If no such request is made it will be the duty of the Divisional Officer (who is responsible for the individual's welfare and pastoral care) to give his/her assistance. It is the duty of the officer to whom the complaint is made or referred to investigate it as soon as possible and to grant any redress which appears to him/her necessary and which is within his/her power. If the complainant is not satisfied with the decision on his/her complaint, he/she may request that it be forwarded to the next superior authority and so on, with the Admiralty Board as the final level.

  The statutory basis for the internal complaints procedure for the Naval Service is Section 130 of the Naval Discipline Act 1957. Guidance on the complaints system is contained in Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy (QRRN, Chapter 42). More detailed guidance and instruction to Commanding Officers on the handling of complaints is contained in Personnel, Legal, Administrative and General Orders (PLAGOs 0410 for Casework—Representations and Complaints; PLAGOs 0411 for Diversity and Equality Complaints, including Bullying).

  Details of complaints made during the last five years are given in Ev 300-01. All of the complaints identified were resolved without the necessity of being considered by the Admiralty Board.

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Prepared 14 March 2005