Troops ‘too scared’ to complain

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Defence officials were yesterday urged to urgently investigate claims that fear of redundancy is deterring armed forces personnel from making complaints about genuine grievances.

MPs said it was “unacceptable” that service personnel were shying away from taking action because they were afraid of the consequences.

The Commons defence committee said it was “concerned and disappointed” that personnel do not always have confidence to pursue complaints through their chain of command.

It called for the government to axe the service complaints commissioner role, which cannot actively investigate allegations, and replace it with an armed forces ombudsman that could hold the services to account.

Although the existing commissioner has called for the role to be overhauled to make it more effective, forces chiefs are opposed to the move, according to the committee’s report.

It also found the number of complaints of bullying, harassment, improper behaviour and victimisation the commissioner has received has continued to increase but allegations about sexual harassment remain low, despite evidence suggesting it may be more widespread.