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Overview and scrutiny

Overview and scrutiny is an important part of the Government's drive to modernise local government, and is at the heart of a councillor's role as an elected representative.

Scrutiny aims

The aim of overview and scrutiny is to make decision-making processes more transparent, accountable and inclusive and to improve services for people by being responsive to their needs. For scrutiny to be effective, the process must be open, fair, constructive and positive. The aim is to challenge decisions so improvements can be made, not to apportion blame when things go wrong.

The scrutiny process aims to ensure that all those who wish to contribute - whether as councillors, officers, co-optees, specialists or members of the public giving evidence - feel valued and are able to speak freely and openly. 

The mission of the Centre for Public Scrutiny is to be the leader in promoting and supporting excellent governance and scrutiny across all public services. All of their work is underpinned by the following values and behaviours:

  • to provide a constructive 'critical friend' challenge
  • to amplify the voices and concerns of the public
  • to be led by independent people who take  responsibility for their role
  • to drive improvement in public services

Overall, overview and scrutiny is about making a difference and improving the lives of the people who live and work in County Durham.

Overview and Scrutiny Handbook

The Icon for pdf Overview and Scrutiny Handbook (PDF, 6.0mb)  provides information and guidance on our overview and scrutiny arrangements. It is targeted at all audiences - council members, officers, the public, local partner organisations, and regional and national organisations and agencies, who might wish to give evidence as part of a scrutiny review, or who are interested in overview and scrutiny generally. It includes information on Petitions and Councillor Call for Action.


We have an Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board which oversees the following scrutiny committees:

Have your say

We believe that for scrutiny to be effective, the process must be open, fair, constructive and positive. Our aim will be to challenge so we can ultimately improve, not apportion blame, when things go wrong.

We try to provide opportunities at appropriate stages of the process for those who wish to contribute. So that you know what to expect and how you will be treated when you give evidence to our scrutiny committees, we have produced Overview and Scrutiny guidance for witnesses. It is important that you feel comfortable with the process, so we also ask those who give evidence to give feedback to enable us to monitor and improve our process.


Contact us
Scrutiny Team
03000 265 978
Our address is:
  • Transformation and Partnerships
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL
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