Despite mounting concern, particularly in the wake of the 12 year, £200+ million Saville Inquiry, public inquiries remain the standard governmental response in the UK to managing matters of public interest and public concern. There are currently four public inquiries into child abuse being undertaken in the British Isles, including the Child Care Inquiry in Scotland. A number of other smaller inquiries in the UK and the St Helena Inquiry have just concluded. The latest public inquiry, Westminster, will take 5-10 years to conclude and the annual costs for each public inquiry are between £10m-£20m.
Recently the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, questioned inquiries "sucking huge amounts of resources" out the system in a time of austerity and suggested it was time to consider a different approach.
This programme will bring together experts and senior figures from the academic, legal, public policy worlds along with recent participants in inquiries and experts in management/audit and design research and governmental researchers. In two sessions, participants will have three goals: to understand what public inquiries are intended to achieve (and the extent to which they are successful); to consider whether the same or better results could be achieved by other means and what those means might look like; to identify any lessons / approaches which might assist current public inquiries in the UK.
The sessions will have the wider aims of providing a range of materials to launch a public dialogue on how the purposes of inquiries might be otherwise achieved and informing an online resource for professionals commissioning and conducting inquiries.