Armed forces service complaints process

Information about how to make an armed forces service complaint and details of the changes made to the complaint process from 1 January 2016.

Making a service complaint

Serving or former members of the UK armed forces can make a complaint if they feel they have been wronged on a matter that arises when they are subject to service law. This can include complaints of bullying, harassment, discrimination and biased, improper or dishonest behaviour.

Individuals intending to make a service complaint are advised to read Redress of individual grievances: service complaints (JSP 831) or to seek advice from their local human resource staff or from their equality and diversity adviser. Either of those will be able to explain how the matter might be resolved informally or how to submit a formal complaint. The Annex F service complaint form, which should be used to submit a formal service complaint, is also in JSP 831.

Service contacts

Royal Navy: email

Army: email

Or telephone:
SO2 Ops, Service Complaints Secretariat: 94391 2005 (01264 382005) SO3 Ops, Service Complaints Secretariat: 94391 2714 (01264 382714)

RAF: email

Or telephone: SCT Admin Support 95221 6468 (01494 496468)

The new complaints process

The service complaints process changed on 1 January 2016, making it simpler and more streamlined with one instead of two levels of appeal, and should be quicker as complaints are assigned to a decision body that has the authority to grant appropriate redress, and to an appeal body if required.

The Service Complaints Commissioner (SCC) became an Ombudsman with greater powers.

More information is available in the factsheet.

Service Complaints Ombudsman

Nicola Williams, a former Complaints Commissioner in the Cayman Islands, took over as the Service Complaints Ombudsman (SCO) in January 2015 and is the first Ombudsman. Her appointment has been approved by The Queen.

The Ombudsman provides independent oversight of the service complaints system. Individuals who do not feel able to approach their Commanding Officer can submit an allegation to the Ombudsman who will consider whether it would be appropriate to refer the matter to the relevant service.

The Ombudsman has significant new powers, including investigating whether an individual’s complaint was handled correctly or whether there was undue delay in the process.

More information about the Service Complaints Ombudsman can be found on the SCO website.

Published 6 November 2015
Last updated 18 September 2017 + show all updates
  1. Added updated contact information.

  2. Updated service contacts information.

  3. Updated text in 'The new complaints process' section.

  4. Made changes to summary and section Service Complaints Commissioner which is now Service Complaints Ombudsman.

  5. First published.