As of 30 September, we had 75 unallocated substance and maladministration cases, a decrease of 7 cases since the beginning of the month. It is taking us 17 months to allocate a case. So although the number of unallocated cases is slowly decreasing we have not yet reduced the time it is taking to allocate a case to a member of the investigation team. However, we are taking steps to reduce this backlog through further recruitment and are currently interviewing applicants for two permanent Senior Investigator posts. We have also obtained funding for two temporary Senior Investigator posts and we hope they will start at the end of this month.
The Ombudsman is required to report to the Secretary of State for Defence each year on how the Service complaints system is operating. As part of this report, she makes recommendations based on the work undertaken by her office. Historically these recommendations have been for the Services or MOD to act on. However, in her 2018 Annual Report, she made a recommendation for her own office. This recommendation included submitting a comprehensive proposal to the Ministry of Defence for additional resources by the end of September 2019. We have submitted our request for additional permanent staff to reduce the existing allocation backlog and prevent a new backlog developing. The MOD will consider this request as part of their budgetary planning for 2020.
Our investigation team are continuing to work hard to reduce the backlog of cases. We encourage you to make an application to us if you are thinking about making an application for a substance and maladministration investigation but are worried about the delay. If you do not make your application within the 6-week limit the Ombudsman may not be able to review your case at all.