Servicemen and women are to be given option of taking complaints regarding mistreatment to an ombudsman
A new watchdog will investigate the way bullying and abuse cases are dealt with in the armed forces, the defence secretary has announced.
Servicemen and women will be able to take complaints of mistreatment they believe have not been properly dealt with to an independent ombudsman, said Philip Hammond.
It comes after warnings from the service complaints commissioner, Susan Atkins, that the current system was failing with too many cases subject to unreasonable delays or badly handled.
The changes will reform the system to give the commissioner new powers as the service complaints ombudsman, including the ability to overturn a decision to exclude a complaint.
Personnel will be able to bring in the independent ombudsman to review the handling of their complaint after one internal appeal – a move that is hoped will significantly speed up the system that can currently see cases take years to resolve.
The watchdog will have the power to look at complaints that go to the highest levels of the armed forces and can make recommendations about how a case should be dealt with, although its findings will not be legally binding.