The Times - MPs call for new ombudsman to stop Armed Forces abuse

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by DangerMouse, Feb 26, 2013.

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  1. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Old-Salt Moderator

    The Service Complaints Commissioner's website can be found at:

    This story links to this thread, too:

    My personal view, as a serving Regular Army Major (check my posting history back over the past decade, for verification), is as follows:

    So what, what can you do about it? Nothing? What difference can one person make? Actually, if you speak out, then working together, we can make an immense difference:

    Any questions, feel free to PM me, guys. I regret that I will not be checking this thread as I'm busy at work.

    Update, added 13 Mar 13:

    The Times have published the full report on their website, here: The Times - Call for ombudsman as army ‘kangaroo courts’ condemned - but it can also be downloaded below:

    The files published by The Times:

    Overview - Maj R A McLeod R SIGNALS LLB MA.pdf

    Part 1 - The need for an empowered Armed Forces Ombudsman.pdf

    Part 2 - Threats to Service Personnel - and opportunities for mitigation.pdf
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  2. DangerMouse

    DangerMouse Old-Salt Moderator

    The full report from the Defence Committee is here: House of Commons - The work of the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces - Defence Committee

    PDF version:

    The write evidence submitted to the Defence Committee is here: House of Commons - Defence Committee: Written Evidence: Contents

    PDF version:

    Here is a summary of the actual report from the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, with a link to the full report above:

    PRESS RELEASE - 21 March 2013

    After 5 years the Armed Forces complaints system is still inefficient and undermines confidence in the chain of command. Service Complaint Commissioner urges Ombudsman as way ahead

    Today the Service Complaints Commissioner Dr Susan Atkins presents her Annual Report for the past year to Parliament. It makes stark reading.

    Download the SCC's Annual Report, published on 21 March 2013, from here:

    Press release:

    PDF of full report (well worth reading):
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  3. While I fully agree with the sentiment, I fear it's going to take a considerable, and some might say, impossible, shift in culture to change the way we look at those who wish to raise concerns. (I hate the term 'whistleblower', as it gives quite the wrong impression).

    One area which I feel might stand scrutiny is the implementation and employment of a system of confidential occurrence reporting, using an accredited third-party agency to provide a safe system of dialogue. Industrial precedents already exist in the UK, see CHIRP (Aviation), CHIRP (Maritime) and the rail sector's CIRAS for examples. Another is CHAINS, ( currently under consideration for the oil & gas exploration and production sector. All good examples of simple systems with a proven record of resolving issues. Military aviation across all three Services use a similar system, and it could easily be used to aid the current complaints system.

    I've tried to bring this subject to the attention of the Defence Select Committee in the recent past; they're 'looking into it'.
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  4. Formal recognition of BAFF along similar lines to the Police Federation would be a step in the right direction. It is not a trade union, has no political affiliation or ulterior motive and if Service Regulations are written sensibly enough, there need not be any clash with the Chain of Command or Service ethos.
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  5. But those who don't like the idea of BAFF will continue to say that it does. And then you've got the 'blind loyalty' gang who's eyes are never far from that next promotion to contend with, who'll agree with anything that the management say.

    There's clearly a problem. And it's not a new one.
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  6. The chain of command are (quite rightly) obligated to follow legal orders and achieve the mission in the best manner. Someone needs to be responsible for looking after the rights and welfare of the individuals. Obviously the two objectives often combine but when they diverge, I would prefer the issue was taken up by our own in the form of a BAFF Rep than by an outside ombudsman or political appointee.
  7. No need for Orderly Officers rounds now then eh?
  8. Many thanks for those points. I can certainly see the argument that an armed forces ombudsman would be another attempt to "shoot the BAFF fox", to which I say "carry on shooting, chaps if it improves things for armed forces personnel and veterans".

    In fact BAFF's own evidence to the Defence Committee inquiry supported the enhancement of the Service Complaints Commissioner's powers to those of a full Armed Forces Ombudsman. We are quoted at this link from the Guardian: Military staff fear redundancy if they complain about bullying.

    What form a Armed Forces Ombudsman should take in our country is a subject for further debate. There are plenty of overseas examples working well but, as with the idea of a representative federation, I would not look for a one-size-fits-all solution from elsewhere.

    My own view is that we should build on the work of the Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC), and enhance that office's powers, to include investigation of individual live complaints as well as "theme" investigations and oversight of the system. This would certainly need enhanced resources, but we also support the SCC's call for simplification and speeding up of the existing service complaints system.
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  9. Hackle I agree, I think that there are considerable issues that require addressing, however there is the workings of a good system if it can be reinforced with greater powers.

    It would appear that the majority of the issues are caused by the intransigence of the MoD to relinquish any additional powers to the SCC. The inherent design of the current complaints system effectively allows for some abuse of power to be tolerated and complaints ignored.

    The MoD dictate SCC policy, and until the Service Complaints Commissioner is given additional powers to determine her own policy and to intervene and investigate certain cases there will continue to be issues.
  10. But who do they complain to when they are told we cannot have 100% discount at some shit shop when in uniform.
  11. I abhor bullying in any form and anywhere. Personnel using rank to bully should be sacked - no appeal, simply kicked out.

    That said, I think we the tax-payers ought to have an ombudsman to stop the frantic twerps in Parliament from bullying us and wasting our hard-earned cash. The Blair-Brown Terror was an appalling government; a shambles, a disgrace, but this current gang of hapless ne'er-do-wells are running neck and neck with them in the Most Dreadful Government Ever competition.
  12. How external are we talking? If it is staffed by people who have never served then they are unlikely to fully comprehend the unique dynamics that make up Service life and flavour Service humour. If it is staffed by people who have reached very senior positions it may be staffed by people who are, ta best, institutionalised or at worst formerly were part of the problem. Similarly if you take someone who has experienced Service life but not benefited from it than you are likely to be employing someone with an axe to grind.

    That doesn't mean that the right people for the right job can't be found just that it cannot be seen as just another RO position for the chaps. Personally if BAFF keeps itself as it promises to do and acts more as an advisory and avocational service for the individual and does not seek to become a Union then I think it is already well-placed to offer advice and assistance and to be used a bit like the IPCC without being a political monster or a full blown union. Sometimes taking it on the chin is synonymous with enormous injustice and takes advantage of a soldier's sometimes (in certain circumstances) missplaced loyalty to his CoC. A loyalty that can sometimes be one way traffic,

    If there is a common theme to most well-publicised cases within the Army it has been that the complainant has almost always sought redress through the CoC which have either covered things up or ignored them. The Army isn't any softer than it was but individuals are less prepared to accept that they must take any amount of discrimination or bigotry of bullying on the chin and just get on with it. There is humour and their is relentless belittling or undermining of an individual's feeling of self-worth. I don't believe that the Services are infested with outrageous behaviour but knowing that there is independent recourse to justice may just sustain the victims and dissuade to perpetrators.
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  13. A shame we can't get someone to stop the abuse of the system and people by MPs!
  14. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

  15. SCC.....mmmm brilliant idea, poorly executed.
    I say this from experience but from the opposite end of the process.
    I and a few other SNCO's were subject to a SCC back end of 2011. In meantime i deployed to HERRICK, came back and then only whilst on POTL Dec 2012 did some form of closure come about.
    The SCC itself was over our supposed bad treatment of a F&C soldier along with his cold weather injury. Of course the statements and evidence that was presented by his legal bloke was very detailed, going back 3 years in some cases with days, times and more detail, which the cynic in me thought it was all a bit too much pre-planned! The part against me was i shouted at the bloke, did not believe some of what he had said and other minor things but i hasten to add, no racist complaint was part of the complaint against me.
    Every 30 days your Unit is meant to update you on the progress of the SCC.....well it took some strongly worded emails and verbal confrontations in BASTION to tell the Regtl heirachy they basically were not doing their job and actually i got an apology later on. You notice i said BASTION, the updates stopped Jan 12 and i took up my grievance over the whole process June 12!!
    The end result was nothing was found to be wrong in our (read the Army's) handling of this soldier (well civvy, we got presented the SCC the day he left the Army), with only a comment that in my case it was found that i could be a bit too old fashioned in the way i disciplined him (the shouting at him bit, which i actually denied). Apart from the failing on the Regt and the way it handled the case, i was told the Complaint took so long because the SCC itself is inundated with Complaints and cant keep up.