Too long a wait for Afghanistan inquests

More British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan - but the number of inquests held into their deaths has halved, in spite of Government promises of extra resources. Why?

The money was made available from October 2007 to ensure that a backlog of inquests would not build up. As a result, in the year from the end of October 2007 to 23 October 2008, 105 inquests were held (nearly two a week).

But in the following 6 months (up to 27 April 2009), only 21 inquests had been held (around one a week), a highly significant reduction.

What is the explanation, at a time when more British soldiers, rather than  fewer, are being killed in Afghanistan? Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, confirmed the slowdown in a written ministerial statement on 15 July 2009. In the ten weeks from 27 April to 6 July 2009 only 11 military inquests were concluded. In those same 10 weeks, there were 23 UK military fatalities in Afghanistan.
To fail to provide the promised additional resources for inquests, if that is the explanation for the slowdown, would be a poor reflection of the nation’s covenant with its military personnel and families. Our soldiers face major combat in Afghanistan. The least we can do is learn lessons promptly from the deaths of those who die in action; and afford closure to their families.

We believe a reasonable expectation is that only 10 per cent of families, be they military or otherwise, should have to wait for more than 455 days for an inquest verdict.  But last year we showed that this expectation is not being met for military families. 
Even after discounting the wait for a Board of Inquiry to report, one third of military families waited more than 455 days for an inquest verdict. When a BoI was convened, families typically had to wait at least 455 days for that to report - and then even longer for an inquest.  
The Ministry of Justice has some questions to answer.
1. Did it provide additional resources for one year only from October 2007?
2. Will it now undertake again to provide sufficient resources to ensure that a backlog of inquests into military fatalities is not built up?
3. What change in resources for military inquests has it made in the light of the recent high number of military fatalities in Afghanistan?
4. In gauging the resources needed, what proportion of military families does it expect should have to wait more than 455 days for an inquest verdict?