Bullying and harassment service complaints

Hi All
I am after a little advice here, I have been asked to find out how to make a service complaint on bullying and harassment by a serving VR(T) officer. I have read through all the JSP (which I have passed on) and it says you need an EDA and will have a AO appointed to help you before you submit the complaint. I understand what they do and why. All well and good if you are a regular on a station somewhere. Nothing found on bader except a link back to the JSP. This is all very delicate and would like to help this person. Do the complaints just get filled in and sent to whichever wing HQ is in charge? Regional HQ? HQAC? In this case it cant be sent to the sqn OC.
It seems we have a policy which is a bit tricky to follow. I would really prefer if the issue could be dealt with outside of this policy as I know HQAC are really busy but this is impossible as already been tried for quite a while to no effect. Would anyone have any helpful info or who to send it to if we dont get EDA’s and AO’s in the air cadets. Obviously cant give which wing or sqn I am at. cheers guys any help greatly appreciated.

Write a letter to Wing HQ requesting they initiate a SC. send it recorded delivery. Simple as. HQAC will then get in touch to discuss and advise.

Vertvrt, Service Complaint (SC) are pretty simple and straight forward. Without knowing the details this is the advice lines we are trained to follow at work.

  • SC can only be sought after all avenues have been exhausted. The EDA will present these but this is along the lines of mediation, face to face, local investigation. There are a good few to go through. In ACO terms, these initial options would be managed by a Sqn OC or WSO as appropriate. This is the informal levels of a SC, without these a formal SC cannot be done.
  • If all these avenues are exhausted then this would lead to a formal SC. As you say this is not obvious for the ACO. Basically you just write a letter stating you wish to raise a formal in this letter you need to clearly state your grievance and pose the redress which you seek. The latter is the important part, a SC cannot proceed if you are annoyed and want people to know, you have to be annoyed and want to achieve something by your complaint.

Hope that above makes sense.

Thanks both for the advice. It was pretty much what I thought it would be and I shall pass your advice on.
Whilst it is not up to me, and I am neither a trained EDA or AO, there have been a few meetings, various communications with WSO and the like.
I feel confident that no one would just wish to use the process to be vexatious or attempt some kind of grand standing. From what I have read, the process would not appear to be a pleasant process for any involved and using it to make a point would seem stupid. Like you, I have had a fair amount of training in my work life on how to deal with such things. I guess, whether we are regular RAF, RAF VR(T), ATC or CI, we do accept the ‘military’ aspect of our organisation but that also comes with the same rights as everyone else gets and, possibly, the level of civility and persuasion might need to be a little higher as we have very few,if any, situations where there is an ‘operational need’ a ‘combat situation’ or simply don’t have the time to be nice to people applies. Therefore we should normally have the opportunity to display a team approach or even just try to sell not tell. I have held a fairly senior command position as a full time job for a good few years so do understand what the pressures can be but also have worked with people who were, in my humble opinion, horrible bullies but it worked for them and there were no complaints. In this case, I feel I must support the line in the sand and will definitely pass on the process advice and continue to do whatever I can to help.
If anyone else on here wishes to chip in further please do so. All contributions greatly recieved as they say. Sadly the ACO can attract the odd ‘Walt’, weak person or someone with little aptitude or ability in terms of management who, outside of the good work we do, would never in a million years be in charge of anything. We have a limited pool of people to pick from and, sometimes, putting your hand up is all that is required.

Hi VeryVRT, The ACO have a zero policy for bullying, simple as that. If it is not sorted at local level, go to Wing if not sorted there, get written proof of the lack of action by wing and go to Region, and so on. REMEMBER to get everything in writing NOT telecom as there is no proof of what was said. Don’t forget it is the offence YOU feel not what the ACO Rep dictates. Good luck and do not let the Walts grind you down.

I don’t think there is a zero bullying policy wrt staff. I think we have different standards in terms of bullying wrt cadets than we do staff? I don’t think staff are taken seriously when it comes to bullying / harrassed, because they are adults.
Having had cadets complain about being bullied etc, it is something you want to resolve quickly whereas staff in similar postion seem to get locked into a lengthy process just to start the process, that if pursued won’t be fully/properly resolved as the perpetrator may seek to hide behind inane policy as a defence for their comments / actions.

With photos and videos glibly distributed on social media and people commenting on these, have any staff feel they have been “bullied remotely”, ie comments and or actions taken as a result of pictures, videos or comments seen by a third party online who has then instigated action against said individual(s)?
If so what are routes open to them?
Would the normal complaint/grievance routes be open to you and who against, the person instigating / taking the action or the person(s) puttng the images out there or both?

I was chatting a woman who has a pastoral role in a school and said she has had increasingly more bullying / harrassment complaints coming from parents of children ‘victimised’ directly or indirectly via social media, which has resulted in pupils being punished and two incidents of teachers taking legal action against parents for comments on social media. What she did say was that thankfully the parents apologised on social media after the police got involved and explained they could have been prosecuted and if they have any complaints they should be made in person to the school.

I recall a picture on here a few years back of a large chap whose uniform didn’t fit properly and was slagged off / harrangued imo as a result of pictures posted online, the publishing of which he had no control of, by third parties. If he had been admonished by a third party who saw the pictures but not in person, would he have had recourse against these or the people taking and posting the image(s)? Why was he told he couldn’t take part in the parade by someone there? What if it had been a cadet?

Hi All
Firstly, can I say something about the larger gentleman previously posted on here without his permission.
I do agree that he had no control over what was published but, as an adult, taking part in a public parade he (as do we all) gave his de facto agreement for anyone taking pictures. We all now that the press, the public and PR people will be taking pictures and those will end up in the public domain. Whilst I was not actually at that parade, it was discussed last time I was at Cranwell. Our excellent adult SNCO’s are, I feel, the gate keepers of drill and discipline standards. It was explained to us that he was told not to go on parade due to being improperly dressed. His uniform did not fit correctly and he could not, by virtue of its fitting, wear it in a manner which should be expected of anyone in the RAF, ACO or any other uniformed personnel. The Warrant Officer discussing the case made it perfectly clear that there is no uniform regulation whatsoever which states a body shape, age or other personal physical attribute which is a bar to going on parade. If his uniform had fitted properly and he could have worn it correctly, he would have been allowed to parade. He chose to ignore the instruction from the Warrant Officer on that day so I can only support the Warrant Officer on this occasion. I don’t believe that the publishing of the pictures is bullying in this case.

As for our distressing situation, it has resolved itself or is doing so. The person concerned has removed themselves from the squadron permanently and, obviously, this has relieved the tension. We will now have a period of recovery where we try and put things in a better position. The person concerned had long service with the ACO where they made a contribution to the organisation. It is a real shame that they could not have accepted that things change over time and, whilst we all make our contributions in our own style, that there is a time to move on, let go or change what we do. We would have all helped in that difficult transition from command to another role whatever that might have been and helped them to move on with greater dignity and respect than was the outcome we experienced.
I will say that I have most definitely learnt that there will come a time for me to move on and I hope I will be honest enough with myself to realise when that day comes. In the event that I don’t, I have asked some of the people I work with and trust to let me know when I start to turn that corner if I haven’t noticed.
I have had experience of a Chief Fire Officer of mine who started off as a really excellent leader. He was very dynamic and made good decisions. However, he got bogged down as well as sentimentally attached to things he could not change and he became less and less respected. In the end he spent the last 6 months of his tenure on enforced gardening leave. He is more remembered for the difficult end than the excellent beginning sadly.
I wonder if we could all make a sort of new year’s resolution. Look back at the time you have had in the ACO, think honestly about how much longer you feel you can continue doing what you do now and then set a time before that point that you tell yourself you will leave. Actually we don’t even have to leave. All Squadrons need CI’s, civcom members and other personnel who are not neccessarily in command or responsible for particular areas. Six months before that point review the decision. If there are good reasons for you to continue, you are still doing good things (in the opinion of others) and you are still enjoying it then maybe carry on but only maybe and with a new leaving date picked. If there is currently no one else to take over if you do leave then make it your mission to get someone who can. Using the example of the old Chief Fire Officer, his replacement made a succession plan his first priority. I do appreciate that we are limited by who actually volunteers but perhaps our respective WHQ’s should be developing people into the roles and identifying where there are gaps as a priority. Any officer is better than no officer doesn’t work for me I am afraid.
Happy new year all and keep up the good work.


Hmmm, I wonder what precipitated this FoI request?