Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces: the First Year
HC 277, Eighth Report of Session 2008-09 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence
- House of Commons - Defence Committee
- TSO (The Stationery Office)
In this inquiry the Committee examines the effectiveness of the current Service complaints procedures based on the findings of the Service Complaints Commissioner, Dr Susan Atkins, in her first annual report. It also examines the Commissioner's evaluation of the support given to her by the Ministry of Defence during the year.
The report sets out the background to the creation of the role and details the Service Complaints System that is explained to Service personnel in Joint Service Publication 831 (issued December 2008). Finally, the Committee considers how the Commissioner has operated in her first year.
The Commissioner has set clear aims, values and objectives for her office:
understanding the environment of the three Services;
delivering good customer service;
ensuring widespread knowledge of the new system;
establishing a reliable recording system for complaints;
ensuring effective integration of the SCC and Tri-Service systems;
establishing expectations and requirements; and
delivering her annual report on time.
The Committee commends Dr Atkins for her regular and frequent visits to military bases and to operational theatre to gain an understanding of the environment of the three Services, and how the complaints system operates in practice.
The Committee's other conclusions and recommendations include:
Knowledge in the Services of the Commissioner and her role is patchy and more should be done by the Ministry to improve that.
Staff resources should also be increased.
It is still too early to decide whether the Commissioner has sufficient powers.
The next annual report should be presented formally to Parliament.
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