RAF Service Complaints

Friday 22nd September 2023

What is a Service Complaint?

A Service Complaint is an internal grievance. The aim of the Service Complaints system is to provide Service Personnel with a process that is efficient, effective and fair in order to resolve valid grievances on matters relating to their service.

What can you complain about?

A Service Complaint can be submitted for any matter considered a wrong, relating to a Service Person’s service. A Complaint cannot be submitted about the admissibility, outcome or administration of another Service Complaint, this should be referred to the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces. Some matters also must also first be submitted through the Special-To-Type Complaints process including issues with housing, pay and allowances and health care.

How does a Service Person submit one?

A Service Complaint can be submitted within 3 months of the date of the incident, or if the matter took place over a period of time, the date of the latest incident. To make a complaint, a Service Complaints form, an Annex F, should be completed and emailed to the Central Admissibility Team. Complainants can ask their unit SD for advice on how to complete a Complaint, and at any time during the process.

RAF Service Complaints Journey

What happens next?

If the Service Complaint is eligible to be accepted, the Complaint will be made admissible and a Decision Body will be appointed to investigate and decide on the Complaint, usually by way of a Case Hearing.

What is a Case Hearing?

A Case Hearing is held on MS Teams between the Decision Body and Complainant, and any other individuals identified by the Decision Body. The Decision Body, an experienced senior officer, will facilitate the hearing, allowing everyone involved to be heard and present relevant evidence. If possible, the Decision Body will make a decision in the course of the Hearing. Case Hearings are designed to be as relaxed and flexible as possible – they are not a court process! Due to their nature, Case Hearings resolve Complaints  quickly, removing opportunity for undue delay and stopping an unnecessarily prolonged experience for all those involved. Of course, we do understand that not all Complaints are suitable for Case Hearing, and these will be decided via investigation with the Decision Body writing to the Complainant with their decision.

What changes have been to the Service Complaints Process?

The Service Complaints Team strive to make the process frictionless, with empathetic care and a fast resolution and it was recognised that significant changes were needed to achieve this. The Team introduced new initiatives including Case Hearings and other concepts that have now been adopted by the other 2 Services. Feedback from our ‘customers’ is improving and the Team has increased the percentage of Service Complaints closed within 24 weeks from 42% in 2021 to 82% in 2022, this despite 2022 having the highest number of Complaints ever submitted. What this tells us is that individuals trust the system and feel empowered to complain when they feel that they have been wronged.

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