The work of the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces - Defence Committee Contents

4  Conclusion

83.  The Service complaints system is an important part of ensuring that the duty of care that the nation owes to its Service personnel is carried out effectively. We commend the Government for recognising this in the Armed Forces Covenant. The Service Complaints Commissioner role is an integral part of honouring the Covenant's commitment to the duty of care to the Armed Forces and the opportunity for Service personnel to seek redress when they believe they have been treated inappropriately or unfairly. We acknowledge the progress made in delivering a fair, just and efficient Service complaints system but there is a long way to go. There are too many reports of Service personnel being reluctant to raise genuine complaints and grievances. We are also concerned that complaints are not being raised when they implicate individuals above the complainant within the chain of command. This is a time of great changes in the Defence arena and many of these changes may lead to an increase in the number of Service complaints. The Service complaints system has evolved, as has the role of the Commissioner, but there are still too many instances of delay, inefficiency and lack of resources. These must be dealt with urgently so as to ensure there is confidence in the system and the Commissioner. The Government should change the role of the Commissioner to one of an Armed Forces Ombudsman. This would be an important first step in raising confidence in the Service complaints system and making it more effective and efficient. We will maintain a close interest in the work of the Commissioner and the Service complaints system, particularly in whether the recent changes to the role of the Commissioner and changes to the complaints system prove to be effective. Our Servicemen and Servicewomen deserve a complaints system that is as good as it can be. Not to provide this would be a failure of the nation's duty to them—and a breach of the Covenant.

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2013
Prepared 26 February 2013