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History and Legislation

The role of the Service Complaints Ombudsman replaced the role of Service Complaints Commissioner from 1st January 2016.

The position of the Commissioner had been created in 2016 as part of significant reforms to the Service complaints system. This followed recommendations made by Nicolas Blake QC in his Review of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of four soldiers at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut. The purpose of the Commissioner was to act as an alternative point of contact for personnel who wanted to make a Service complaint and to report annually on the operation of the Service complaints system.

Dr. Susan Atkins was appointed as the first Commissioner in January 2007 and held the post until December 2014.

In each of her Annual Reports to parliament, Dr. Atkins consistently found that:

  1. the Service complaints system was not yet effective, efficient or fair; and
  2. the powers of the Commissioner did not go far enough to effect the necessary change

As a result, in 2015 the Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced that the Service complaints system would be reformed again. These reforms included replacing the Commissioner with an Ombudsman who had powers of investigation.

These reforms were formalised in the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Act.