What can you do about Harassment in the UK Armed Forces?

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Serving in the Armed Forces is very different to civilian life, and this in itself brings a number of challenges when it comes to reporting harassment. Many victims are worried about making a complaint for fear of the consequences.

This is something which comes up when speaking to people affected by harassment in the UK Armed forces. At Simpson Millar we have a specialist team of Military Claims Solicitors who will go through the process with you and ensure that this is not the case. We’ll guide you through the process, support you and help you get the outcome you want. We work with Military personnel every day so we know how things work.

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In every workplace you are entitled to be spoken to and treated with dignity and respect. The legal system protects people in several ways from bullying and harassment. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was initially brought in to combat stalking, however it has been widened to include situations in the workplace where someone is the subject of hostile contact by colleagues or management.

In the latest Annual Report from the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces, it is revealed that in 2021, nearly a third of complaints they received were about bullying, harassment or discrimination. It’s one of the three largest areas of complaint, 50% of those complaints were upheld in favour of the complainant.

Bullying and harassment can include:

      • Insulting comments
      • Actual assault, either physical or sexual
      • Intimidation/threats

If you have suffered from bullying and harassment in the British Armed Forces, then our team of Military Claims Solicitors can help you get the support and compensation you deserve. If we can help with your case, it could be dealt with on a No Win No Fee basis so if you don’t win, you’ll have nothing to pay.

Sometimes being harassed can affect you mentally and physically. If you have experienced this in any way you may be entitled to damages. Any investigation should aim to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Any delays in an investigation could in itself give rise to a challenge.

How do I Make a Complaint While Serving?

If possible, you should try and settle the matter informally before making your complaint formal. You can do this by:

      • contacting the person responsible for the matter you are complaining about
      • asking the chain of command or a colleague to investigate the matter
      • asking for mediation

Making a Formal Complaint

You have to start the process within 3 months of the last incident.


    File the complaint

    Fill in a service complaint form and give this to your Single Service Secretariat. If you are not sure who to make the complaint to, speak to your unit’s HR team who will be able to advise you who to address this to. The person who will officially deal with your complaint is called the ‘specified officer’.


    See how this will be progressed

    The specified officer may get legal advice as to whether the matter can be treated as a formal complaint. They may contact you directly to get more information or to outline the legal advice they have been given. If your complaint is formerly regarded as official, then it will proceed to Stage Three. If you disagree with that decision you can ask the Service Complaints Ombudsman to review this for you.


    Gathering information

    The Single Service Secretariat will appoint someone known as a ‘decision body’. They will investigate the complaint. They may choose one person or more to carry out the investigation and they will tell you who that is. You will be contacted by them for more information and to ask you to suggest witnesses. The decision body will decide what route the process the investigation should take. Any extra evidence or witnesses will only be included if they deem it to be appropriate.


    The outcome

    You will be sent a copy of the investigation report and you will have the opportunity to make comments on it. These will then be considered when making the final decision. You will then receive the outcome in writing along with details of any action that will be taken.

Can you challenge the decision?

If you want to challenge the decision you have two weeks to appeal. If your complaint involves an allegation of bullying, harassment, discrimination, dishonesty, or biased behaviour the appeal board will include an external independent member.

Making a Claim

If you have suffered harassment during military service, you have two options for making a claim. These are

If you make a claim though the Civil Court, we can support you every step of the way. The first thing we need to do is a Free, no obligation Claims Assessment. If we think that you have a case and we can help  you’ll be assigned a solicitor who will gather evidence and put together details of your case and submit them to the MOD. If they don’t settle your claim, then we can represent you in court to get you the compensation and support that you are entitled to.

Get in touch, today!

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