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Service Personnel Complaints Commissioner

I noticed an item on FLEET Web that an Armed Forces complaints commissioner has been appointed, and was wondering if anyone else knows anything more about it, since it seems to have passed me by.

For example, the article just says that she "is to be kept informed." - is this her total job, or will she have other responsibilities such as investigating incidents in tandem with the Service Police?

If Service personnel are being encouraged to contact her directly, won't this be seen as bypassing the Divisional System and Chain Of Command?

Article follows

Service personnel who believe they have suffered bullying, harassment or discrimination are to have, for the first time, a Service Complaints Commissioner to address their issues.

Dr Susan Atkins will become the MOD's first Service Complaints Commissioner, taking up her role on 1 January 2008.

The appointment of Dr Susan Atkins as the first Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC) was announced today, Wednesday 7 November 2007, by Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth. She will take up her role on 1 January 2008.

The newly created post has been introduced following recommendations made by the House of Commons Select Committee's report into Trainee Welfare and Nicholas Blake QC's Deepcut Review

In future, complaints of bullying, harassment and other improper behaviour will still be investigated by the Chain of Command, but there will be a new duty to keep the Commissioner informed. It will be Susan Atkins' job, as an independent watchdog, to make sure those complaints are dealt with properly: "The SCC is a very powerful 'somebody else'," she says. "People can write to me directly – as can family or friends on their behalf – and where I think it's serious I can put that complaint into the system at a higher level."

Regular updates on the progress of each complaint and its final outcome will be given to the SCC.

The Commissioner will also provide independent reassurance to Service personnel, their families, the public, Ministers and Parliament that the complaints process is effective, thorough and fair.

Although the Commissioner does not have the powers to conduct investigations or to challenge their outcome, she has a statutory right to raise any concerns directly with Ministers. The SCC will also publish an annual report.

The new Commissioner added: "The Armed Forces and MOD have signalled their commitment to having a rigorous, independent and transparent scrutiny of the complaints system. They have also understood the need for an alternative route of access for Service personnel and their families. I shall hold them to their word. I am determined to ensure that all service men and women and their families have confidence in the complaints process and are treated properly."

The Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth, said: "I am delighted that Dr Susan Atkins will become the first Service Complaints Commissioner. She has an impressive and wide ranging career in this area. She established the Independent Police Complaints Commission and was the Deputy Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission. The Armed Forces will benefit hugely from her experience and successful track record. I will have an open door policy with Dr Atkins so that she can raise any concerns that she has with me at any time."

Dr Atkins is undergoing a comprehensive induction process prior to her taking up her post in January, when Service personnel will be able to contact her direct by mail or email.

Edit: For those with access to FLEET Web, link is HERE
 

AfterSSE

War Hero
In future, complaints of bullying, harassment and other improper behaviour will still be investigated by the Chain of Command, but there will be a new duty to keep the Commissioner informed

Nope, more likely they will be under the eye now, and can't ignore grievances/complaints, we had a similar set up done recently, only we call the position "ombudsman", also where she is a certified Dr, then client/patient confidentiality clauses would be in force..?
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Book Reviewer
TattooDog said:
...For example, the article just says that she "is to be kept informed." - is this her total job, or will she have other responsibilities such as investigating incidents in tandem with the Service Police?...

Found this; hope it elucidates:

www.whitehallpages.net said:
...The role of the Commissioner is two-fold. First it provides an alternative route for service personnel, their families or third parties to make complaints. The SCC will refer any complaints she receives to the chain of command which will then investigate them. Regular updates on the progress of each complaint and its final outcome will be given to the SCC. Second the Commissioner will provide independent reassurance to service personnel, their families, the public, Ministers and Parliament that the complaints process is effective, thorough and fair. Although the Commissioner does not have the powers to conduct investigations or to challenge their outcome, she has a statutory right to raise any concerns directly with Ministers. The SCC will also publish an annual report. Both of these give increased transparency to the complaints procedure.

[Source]
 

SILVER_FOX

War Hero
IMHO the Complaints procedures are already too elongated. I wonder how many that actually make it all the way to the final stage are subsequently ruled in favour of the complainant? I think that our COs and Flag Officers get it right almost without exception. It isn't in their interests to do otherwise.

Why do we need another administrative authority looking at what we do? What powers, if any, will she have? And are we simply affording our young boys and girls another perfect opportunity to play the system even more than they do already?

SF
 

exile1

Lantern Swinger
I'm inclined to agree with you SF, yet another highly paid civil service jobsworth to add to the tens of thousands taken on board by this government in the last 10 years. The World' gone soft.
 

lsadirty

War Hero
So you can complain direct to her: no doubt this will make those in authority over you (who you've ignored) REALLY keen to investigate your complaint, I'm sure. Just a meaningless token gesture that will be seen as such by anyone with a modicum of CDF.
 
Armed Forces: Service Complaints Commissioner

Lords Hansard: 12 Nov 07, Col.WS20

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Bob Ainsworth) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A number of improvements have been made to the service redress of individual grievance process (the service complaints process) under the Armed Forces Act 2006 in the light of recommendations made by Nicholas Blake QC. One of these is the establishment of the post of Service Complaints Commissioner, which will introduce an element of independence to the system and provide assurance that the system is working fairly and effectively. I am pleased to announce that Dr Susan Atkins has been appointed to the post of commissioner. She will have a comprehensive induction prior to taking up full duties when the new service complaints process comes into effect in January 2008.

As commissioner, Dr Atkins can receive complaints directly from service personnel, or allegations made on their behalf by family members or other third parties, about any wrong against a service person in relation to harassment, bullying or other improper behaviour, and will have the power to refer them to the chain of command for action. She will be notified of the outcome. The commissioner will also provide an annual report to the Secretary of State for Defence on the fairness, effectiveness and timeliness of the service complaints process which will be laid before Parliament and published.

The appointment of the commissioner is an important step towards the full implementation of the new service complaints process which is due to come into effect in January 2008.
 

diesel

Lantern Swinger
Regular updates on the progress of each complaint and its final outcome will be given to the SCC.


Glad to see the Sea Cadet's are getting involved

:banned:
 
Armed Forces: Service Complaints Commissioner

UPDATE

Lords Hansard: 15 Nov 07, Col.587

Armed Forces (Service Complaints Commissioner) Regulations 2007
Armed Forces (Redress of Individual Grievances) Regulations 2007

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I beg to move the seven Motions standing in the name of my noble friend the Leader of the House on the Order Paper.

Moved, that the draft regulations and orders be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Lord Grocott.)

On Question, Motions agreed to.
 
UPDATE

Both Regulations were approved by their Lordships on 26 Nov 07:

Lords Hansard: 26 Nov 07, Col 1031

Armed Forces (Service Complaints Commissioner) Regulations 2007

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Taylor of Bolton on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 8 October be approved. 28th Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee, Session 2006-07, Considered in Grand Committee on 20 November.—(Baroness Crawley.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[These Regulations can be viewed, in PDF format, HERE]


Armed Forces (Redress of Individual Grievances) Regulations 2007

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lady Taylor of Bolton on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 22 October be approved. 28th Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee, Session 2006-07, Considered in Grand Committee on 20 November.—(Baroness Crawley.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[These Regulations can be viewed, in PDF format, HERE]
 

beltfedwombat

Midshipman
"Oh, me first miss, me, me, me!

There was that Instructor who made me run numerous circuits of the drill square with an SLR bouncing on my nappa. If it wasn't for the cranial damage thereby sustained, I would have almost certainly become an astronaut. Then there was that unfortunate experience as F sharp on the Nod organ; ruined my ear for music and put paid to my dreams of joining the Philharmonic Orchestra. Christ, then there was that Chief Diver. Man, he hated my guts. Got me so freaked out I stayed down even after equalizing for the second time and ended up nearly drowning in Horsea Lake FFS. Is it any wonder Sea World turned me down when I applied to be a Dolphin trainer? Then there was this really nasty ML ....

Sorry miss, what was that?

Oh no miss, there's stacks more. I haven't finished my first year yet.

What's that you say? Claims for compensation aren't retrospective.

Ahhh, bollocks!
 
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