THE Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces, Nicola Williams, provides independent and impartial oversight of the service complaints system. Army&You put your most common questions to her…
What sort of issues do families of Service personnel approach you with?
Family members contact us about a number of issues, but usually it’s something they want to complain about in their own right or they want to support their loved one through the complaints process. A Service complaint can only be made by a serving person, so while we can’t deal directly with complaints made by family members, our enquiries team will always listen and try to suggest the appropriate process or organisation that can provide support. The only exception is where a family member has the legal authority to act on behalf of the Service person. Although it is rare, it does happen.
Can other family members contact you?
Yes. While it is often parents and spouses/partners who contact us, siblings, grandparents and other extended family also get in touch.
Is the service completely confidential?
Enquiries to my office are confidential unless we identify a serious risk of harm to self or others. We never publish information that could identify who has come to us. However, in order for me to use my powers I need to inform the Army SC Sec, in the case of Army personnel, who I am making a referral/conducting an investigation for. This is never done without the person’s knowledge and we cannot act without consent.
Will you provide family members with updates on your investigation?
If we have the explicit consent of the Service person, then we are happy to provide updates and liaise with a family member during the course of an investigation.
Contact the Ombudsman’s office on 020 7877 3450 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about processes, application forms and timeframes can be found at servicecomplaintsombudsman.org.uk or follow @SCOAF_UK on Twitter