To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) staff were employed as investigation officers, (b) investigations were current and (c) investigations were awaiting allocation to an investigation officer in the office of the Service Complaints Ombudsman in each quarter since January 2017; and if he will make a statement.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what budget is available each year to the office of the Armed Forces Ombudsman to access legal advice from (a) the Government's legal service, (b) his Department's legal services and (c) independent legal services; and if he will make a statement.
The Service Justice Board concerns itself with ensuring that the Service Justice System provides a fair system of justice for those who are alleged to have breached Service Law, and that the system is also able to support the Chain of Command in delivering operational effectiveness; the Service Complaints Ombudsman is not a member.
The Service Complaints Ombudsman is provided with an annual budget from defence funds which, under the financial delegation given to her, is used to meet all the costs associated with her independent function; this includes the procurement of any legal advice. The amount spent by the Ombudsman’s office on legal advice varies year on year, and is detailed in the financial expenditure statements in her annual reports to Parliament on the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Service Complaints system. These reports – and those submitted by the Service Complaints Commissioner, can be found at the following address:
The Annual Report for 2018 will be available in the first quarter of 2019.
It will take time to collate the detailed information requested on investigation officers and I will write to the hon. Member in due course.