MOD Response to Deepcut Review - "Complaints Commissioner"

#1
MOD has issued its response to the Review by Nicholas Blake QC into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four soldiers at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut.

Story from MOD Oracle

From Adam Ingram's announcement in Parliament:

Having fully considered Mr Blake’s recommendations the MOD is now in a position to publish its response. We are already in the process of implementing some of the recommendations and work has already begun to address the rest. There are very few recommendations that we cannot meet either wholly or in substantial part.

On the military complaints system, we propose to introduce a ‘Service Complaints Commissioner’. The Commissioner will be able to accept complaints directly from a Service person or a family member and will have the ability to refer such complaints to the Chain of Command for appropriate action, and to be informed of its outcome. Critically, the Commissioner would have direct access to Ministers. Our fundamental intent is to promote the effective operation of existing military proceedings and provide independent assurance that the procedures are working effectively, with systemic issues appropriately addressed.

Our Armed Forces are deeply valued by this Government and their wellbeing is very much at the heart of this response to the Deepcut Review. We are committed to improving the way in which all our recruits are trained, developed and looked after, and we are resolute in our aim to deliver real, measurable and tangible improvements to benefit all of our personnel who serve our country so well. This will be a watershed in how our Servicemen and women are treated.
As I am travelling I have not yet had the chance to make a detailed comparison with what Blake recommended and what MoD have accepted. They will still have to satisfy Parliament in the context of the Armed Forces Bill. My personal reaction is in principle to welcome the promise of a Complaints Commissioner, aka Ombudsman.

D.Y.

Footnote:

The question of a Complaints Commissioner was discussed some time ago by the BAFF Steering Group. It was noted that there is no conflict between having a Commissioner and a representative staff organisation for a country's armed forces: several countries, including Australia, have both.

It was also commented that any faction which is trying to head off the proposed Federation might turn with relief to the Commissioner idea as (from their point of view) the lesser of two evils. This may well be what has now happened. Growing support for a Federation has given the Blake recommendation a crucial boost at the right time.

Similarly, some of those who oppose the Federation on websites may now turn up claiming that they were always in favour of a Commissioner.

Support was expressed in the Steering Group for the establishment of a Commissioner, but there were also misgivings about the thought of an unelected civilian being in a position to issue instructions to the Chain of Command.
 
#2
It seems a grudging acceptance of the need for change, but for my money it is almost pathetic in concept. Commisioner to me smacks of authority and would be almost unapproacable by any serving perso, especially someone with gripe who did not crave attention, but wanted a problem solved.

I also think it highly unlikely that the Commisioner could be a civilian, he/she would simply have insufficient knowledge to deal with every issue.

It is clear from this quote"Our fundamental intent is to promote the effective operation of existing military proceedings and provide independent assurance that the procedures are working effectively, with systemic issues appropriately addressed." exactly what the CoC is trying to do, which is to undermine the rational for BAFF, however I believe that the Commisioner would be seen to be an untrustworthy, crony of the CoC from whom little will be achieved.
 

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