Public inquiries after disaster: a thematic review of the research

Easthope, Lucy (2007) Public inquiries after disaster: a thematic review of the research. Project Report. Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College.

26828 Public-Inquiries-Review-June-2008-doc.pdf
26828 Public-Inquiries-Review-June-2008-doc.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Paper or Report (Project Report)
Item Status:Live Archive


It is commonplace to hear delegates at a conference, students, the media and
many others wonder why lessons are not learned from disasters.
They may also attempt to extrapolate broad learning points such as the need for
“better communications” or “planning”.
There is a wealth of research available which examines both the key themes of
public inquiries and also the way in which the lessons of inquiries can be learned by
other organisations. Crucially much of this research also identifies key barriers to
This is a vital element of practicing effective emergency management. The
overriding aim of this research is to provide material that is of use to today’s
emergency planners in their everyday work.
This review was completed using an iterative approach that examined a wide range
of literature. It provides a summary of the systematic weakness and failures that
have been identified by public inquiries into disasters since 1985, and also draws
on commentary from a range of sources to identify barriers that have prevented
organisations from “actively learning” from these recommendations. Suggested
techniques for ensuring that organisations learn lessons from their own near misses
and historical examples of disasters have also been reviewed.
Public inquiries have been identified as “the most valuable source of information to
help prevent recurrence of disasters” (Toft and Reynolds, 1999, P.45) but
Emergency Planners must also recognise that the capture and publication of the
knowledge acquired in a public inquiry is only one step in the learning process.
It is important to look beyond the one organisation/s featured in the inquiry report
e.g. although the disaster may refer to a rail crash many of the lessons could be
applicable to any organisation.
By analysing the themes that have been identified in this review, emergency
planners will be able to see the way in which “lessons learned” have been
incorporated into current civil protection arrangements and shaped the design of the
Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
This review highlights key themes within inquiry reports that have resonance for a
all organisations. By considering the implications of these themes and crucially
remaining alert to the potential barriers for learning from them those working in the
field of civil protection have the opportunity to examine ways in which they can
enhance resilience.

Keywords:Post-disaster recovery
Subjects:M Law > M210 Public Law
L Social studies > L400 Social Policy
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Law School
ID Code:26828
Deposited On:24 Mar 2017 13:35

Repository Staff Only: item control page