Defence Inquests Unit wins Civil Service Award

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Now in their sixth year, these awards celebrate and recognise individuals and teams who have shown outstanding achievements in delivering excellence…

Now in their sixth year, these awards celebrate and recognise individuals and teams who have shown outstanding achievements in delivering excellence in public service and showcasing innovation.

This year Jon Thompson, MOD’s Director General Finance, was on the judging panel that also included representatives from the Cabinet Office, National Audit Office, Welsh Assembly and Department for Transport.

MOD teams were nominated in four categories overall. The Defence personnel shortlisted, and their categories, were:

  • Collaboration Award - Allenby/Connaught Project Team (Defence Infrastructure Organisation)
  • Project & Programme Management Award and Procurement Award - the Cretheus Project Team (Defence Equipment and Support)
  • Volunteering Award - Outreach Programme (Directorate of Civilian Personnel)
  • Operational Excellence Award - Defence Inquests Unit (winner).

The DIU’s Fran Franks, who attended the ceremony with three other unit members, Colonel Clive Newell, Tracy Fryer and Jo Hutchings, said:

The Defence Inquests Unit is delighted to receive this award, which recognises our part in the hugely important task of supporting bereaved Service families through the inquest process.

We were very impressed by the magnificent setting of Lancaster House and appreciated the Prime Minister taking the time to come and speak to us all. The whole evening was very enjoyable.

Prime Minister David Cameron presented the first award and the ceremony was hosted by Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, who gave his thoughts on the event:

As Head of the Civil Service, the Civil Service Awards remain one of the highlights of my year. They provide an important opportunity to recognise the fantastic achievements of staff working across the Civil Service.

“They are also a great showcase for good practice - highlighting innovation and celebrating excellence in public service.

UK civil servants work in all regions of the UK - as well as in many areas abroad - and often in difficult and challenging environments.

I am delighted that through the awards I have the chance to say thank you for their efforts and I would like to congratulate all of the winners and short-listed nominees for their exemplary work over the past year.

The MOD’s Permanent Secretary (PUS), Ursula Brennan, said:

Congratulations to those who were nominated, and particularly to the Defence Inquests Unit for winning in their category, at the Civil Service Awards last night.

The awards are a great recognition of civil servants across government, and the MOD, who continue to demonstrate their excellence and commitment over what has been a difficult year. My thanks to you and well done.

The DIU was established in 2008 at the direction of ministers and the then PUS to co-ordinate and manage all defence-related inquests into the deaths of Service and MOD personnel who die on, or as a result of injuries sustained while on, operations, and those who die as a result of training activities.

The DIU is also the departmental focal point for any other inquests involving MOD personnel. The unit’s key role is to assist coroners so that they complete relevant inquests fully, thoroughly and as quickly as possible, and to support the families through the inquest process.

It reflects a firm commitment to the proper support of coroners and bereaved families, and to Service personnel, through the learning of lessons in order to prevent similar future incidents.

In the 12 months from 1 July 2010, the DIU assisted coroners in hearing 103 inquests and responded to five Rule 43 reports. During this time the average length of time families have had to wait for an inquest has reduced, due mainly to the relationship the DIU has established with coroners.

Feedback indicates that the majority of coroners find the support provided by the DIU of huge assistance.