Government has spent £639m on public inquiries over the last 30 years and increasingly relies on them to examine major incidents and tragedies. However, the process for following up on recommendations is inadequate.

This report finds that of the 68 public inquiries that have taken place since 1990, only six have been fully followed-up by select committees to see what government did as a result of the inquiry. 

The report also finds that inquiries take too long to publish any findings, with one in seven taking five years or longer to release their final report.

To ensure public inquiries can lead to real change, the report calls for: 

  • government to systematically explain how it is responding to inquiry recommendations
  • select committees to examine annual progress updates from government on the state of implementation
  • public inquiries to publish interim reports in the months, rather than years, after events
  • expert witnesses to be involved in developing the recommendations of inquiries.

Infographic: Public inquiries in numbers, 1990–2017 

Public inquiries in numbers, 1990–2017