THE former Complaints Commissioner for the Cayman Islands, Nicola Williams has taken up the role as the UK’s Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces.

Speaking of her delight at taking up the appointment, Nicola said it was an “enormous privilege” to work to improve the complaints process for Servicemen and women.

She added: “I would also like to express my gratitude to my predecessor, Dr Susan Atkins. Without her careful thought and foresight in shaping this role, the task would be a lot more challenging. 2015 will be a testing year as we move towards becoming an ombudsman – there are exciting times ahead.”

The post of Service Complaints Commissioner was created by the Armed Forces Act 2006 to help combat improper behaviour in the Armed Forces, following recommendations by the House of Commons Defence Committee in its Report on Duty of Care 2004-2005 and by Sir Nicholas Blake QC in the Deepcut Review.

The Commissioner’s function is to provide rigorous and independent oversight of how the complaints system is working and to report back to Ministers and Parliament. She also provides an alternative point of contact for Service personnel to raise concerns about their Service life to the chain of command.

A year of transition

The Office of the Service Complaints Commissioner will see more fundamental change in 2015 as the Commissioner’s role is expected to evolve to that of an Ombudsman.

Legislation setting out a new Service complaints system is currently before Parliament. As part of this legislation, the Ombudsman will have additional powers.

These include the power to review decisions and the power to investigate the handling of a complaint by the Services. If the legislation is passed, the new system is expected to be in place by the end this year.

For more information about the Service Complaints Commissioner, visit http://armedforcescomplaints.independent.gov.uk/

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