The role of the Service Complaints Ombudsman is to provide independent and impartial scrutiny of the handling of Service complaints made by members of the UK Armed Forces.

The Ombudsman achieves this through three main functions.

  • 1. Helping Service personnel access the complaints system

    The Service complaints system is an internal workplace grievance system for members of the UK Armed Forces. If a Service person believes they were wronged in a matter relating to their Service life, whilst they were subject to Service law, they can make a complaint about this. Usually Service personnel will approach their chain of command directly to make such a complaint. However, if they do not want to approach their chain of command directly, for whatever reason, they can ask the Ombudsman to refer their intention to make a Service complaint. Such referrals are generally made to an individual’s Commanding Officer, or former Commanding Officer if no longer serving.

     

    You can find more information about making a request for a referral here

  • 2. Undertaking investigations

    The Ombudsman has the power to:

    1. Review decisions to not accept a complaint or appeal for investigation (Admissibility Decisions)
    2. Investigate allegations of undue delay
    3. Investigate allegations of maladministration in a Service complaint that has been finally determined
    4. Investigate the substance of a Service complaint that has been finally determined

     

    You can find more information about making a request for a review of a admissibility or an investigation referral here

  • 3.Overseeing and reporting on the Service complaints system

    The Ombudsman is responsible for overseeing how the Service complaints system operates and reporting to the Secretary of State for Defence annually on:

    1. How the Service complaints system is operating, including whether it is efficient, effective and fair
    2. The work undertaken by the Ombudsman in the last year
    3. Any other issue the Ombudsman considers it appropriate to report on

     

    You can find links to past Annual Reports here

The aim of the work the Service Complaints Ombudsman undertakes is to ensure all Service men and women have confidence in the complaints system and are treated properly.

What the Ombudsman can’t do

 

The jurisdiction of the Ombudsman is limited to the functions outlined above. Therefore the Ombudsman cannot:

  • Deal with enquiries or complaints that fall outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. This includes complaints from members of the public or family members;
  • Monitor or intervene in the handling of any live complaint excluding specific requests to investigate allegations of undue delay;
  • Investigate alleged maladministration in the handling of a Service complaint that has not been finally determined;
  • Investigating the substance (merits) of a Service complaint that has not been finally determined;
  • Refer an intention to make a Service complaint, review the handling of a complaint or investigate an issue raised by a third party e.g. friend or family member.

INDEPENDENCE | IMPARTIALITY | INTEGRITY