Took their Time but its a start in the right direction The Armed Forces Minister, Bob Ainsworth, today announced the appointment of Dr Susan Atkins as the first Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC). Dr Atkins will take up her role on 1 January 2008. The SCC 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. 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. 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. "The Service Complaints Commissioner is independent of the chain of command, giving service personnel and their families an alternative route to make complaints about bullying, harassment and inappropriate behavior." Dr Susan Atkins said: "I am delighted to be appointed as the first independent Service Complaints Commissioner. I believe strongly that everyone has the right to a working and living environment free from harassment, bullying and discrimination. I also know the importance of ensuring that where complaints of any sort are made, they are dealt with speedily, fairly and in a way that maintains public confidence. "In a Service context this goes beyond individual rights, important as they are, to issues of operational effectiveness. "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." Dr Atkins is undergoing a comprehensive induction process prior to her taking up her post in January.