Yesterday the first Annual Report detailing the work of my office was laid in Parliament. Instead of providing a summary of the report in my blog this week, I have decided to look at the importance of my reporting function.

Generally when the work of my office is discussed it is about the day to day work of referrals and investigations.  That is, how as Ombudsman I have powers to assist people to raise a Service complaint in the first instance and to investigate different aspects of the handling of complaints.

Those functions are exceptionally important; however there is another function that I have under the legislation which is equally as important. That is the reporting function.

S340O of the Armed Forces Act 2006[1] requires that I present an Annual Report to the Secretary of State for Defence covering the following matters:

  1. the efficiency, effectiveness and fairness of the Service complaints system,
  2. the work of my office, and
  3. any other aspects of the system of my office that I consider appropriate to address in my report.

This gives me the opportunity to not only report the statistical information on the work done by my office and the three Services in that calendar year, but also the initiatives being taken forward by the Services and any issues that need to be addressed in order for the system to work as efficiently, effectively and fairly as possible. It is also the mechanism I use to make formal recommendations for improvement.

Although many different organisations and bodies publish Annual Reports, I am an independent public appointment and my role is only one of approximately forty similar appointments that have parliamentary scrutiny attached. As a result my report is not simply a summary of the year but has the potential to affect real change where required.

A great deal of work goes into producing the report each year and I thank all of the staff in my office who have worked throughout the year to produce our inaugural report.  I also thank those personnel in the three Services and the Ministry of Defence who assist with the production of statistics on the work of the Service complaints system in addition to the technical aspects of arranging for the report to be laid.

You can find a copy of the full Annual Report and supporting documents on the OSCO website.

[1] As amended by the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Act 2015