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Independent Ombudsmen needed to deal with military complaints of bullying and harassment

Reports show that the number of complaints in the Armed Forces rose by 10% last year with complaints about bullying, harassment and discrimination accounting for 40 per cent of the total. This week there have been calls from politicians, officers and others for an independent authority to deal with these grievances.

The Service Complaints Commissioner, Dr Susan Atkins, deals with hundreds of these each year but is currently unable to intervene or speed up the complaints process, which can take years. She believes that an independent authority would assist by giving service personnel greater confidence to speak out when they encounter problems as well as expedite the procedure.

One Defence Select Committee member noted “It is time for the Ministry of Defence to wake up and take seriously the fact that they have a culture that still sees a high degree of sexual harassment as just banter”.

As military compensation specialists we hear all too often from service personnel who have been bullied or suffered harassment from their peers as well as those in authority. This can have devastating effects on their mental health and consequently their career. We also see that some of those who speak out are penalised and suffer further victimisation. I therefore fully support giving teeth to a system which will make it easier for those suffering to bring an effective complaint

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