Efficiency and efficacy of the Service Complaints system imposed on the MOD following the suicides/unexplained deaths Deepcut, and widespread bullying, victimisation and harassment allegations
My reference: LSM/FOI/120909/17
Background. In the aftermath of the deaths of four recruits at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, a number of reviews were carried out which severely criticised the British Army concerning its treatment of service personnel. Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Surveys (AFCAS) consistently indicate that actual levels of bullying are higher than reported levels (See for example Hansard, HC (2004-05) 63-II, pages 296-301 and HC (2004-05) 63-I, paras 267-274 for discussion on levels of bullying at training establishments), and that Service personnel do not report complaints because they do not believe they will be resolved: in December the 2004-April 2005 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey, 35% of respondents chose not to complain of unfair treatment, discrimination, harassment or bullying because they ‘did not believe anything would be done...’. The same percentage of recipients did not complain because they ‘believed such a step would adversely affect...’ their career (Select Committee on Armed Forces, First Report, dated 26 Apr 06, Section 6 - Redress of complaints and Service inquiries). The Armed Forces Act 2006 introduced a Service Complaints system. This was considerably weaker than the ombudsman system which Nicholas Blake QC, who investigated the Deepcut deaths, recommended. The current system comprises investigations of the Army, by the Army and for the Army.
Further to s1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000: For each of the three services, and for each of the years 2008-2012 (for 2012, please adopt whatever methodology is easiest for the department: i.e. Jan-Jun only, entire year to date, etc), please list:
a. The number of service complaints submitted, broken down in to those made under JSP 831 alone, or under JSPs 831 and 736 (i.e. bullying and harassment).
b. The number of service complaints resolved, broken down in to those which were upheld and those which were not.
c. The number of service complaints escalated to level 2, broken down in to those which were upheld and those which were not.
d. The number of service complaints escalated to a service complaints’ panel, broken down in to those which were upheld and those which were not.
e. The average time taken from submission of a complaint until it is decided.
f. All information not already encompassed by (a)-(e) held by MOD, Army HQ, Navy Command, and HQ Air regarding the time taken for individual complaints to be resolved.
My preferred format to receive this information is by electronic means. If one part of this request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need any clarification of this request please feel free to email me. If FOI requests of a similar nature have already been asked could you please include your responses to those requests.
I note that under s16 of the Act, it is the MOD's duty to provide advice and assistance, so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to persons who make requests for information to it. Accordingly, if the MOD considers attempting to block release of information under s12 of the Act (exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit), please a) provide a breakdown of costs, and b) explain what information *would* be releasable within the appropriate limit according to the department's purported calculations. I would, in that situation, apply for internal review, and ultimately apply for decision by the Information Commissioner, per s50 of the Act.
I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request, and I look forward to hearing from you within the 20-working day statutory time period.
Please see attached a reply to recent Freedom of Information Act Requests.
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