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Overview and scrutiny

The purpose of overview and scrutiny is to scrutinise decisions of the executive; to hold them to account and make recommendations on policy development and implementation.

Scrutiny aims

Scrutiny supports the council by focussing on the four key principles of good scrutiny. These have been defined by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny: 

  • to provide a constructive "critical friend" challenge to executive policy-makers and decisions-makers
  • to amplify the voice and concerns of the public
  • to ensure scrutiny is carried out by 'independent minded governors' who lead and own the scrutiny role
  • to drive improvement in public services

Our members have agreed to ensure that these principles underpin all the work scrutiny does in County Durham. 

Members lead the overview and scrutiny process by developing comprehensive work programmes which reflect the issues which are important to County Durham and its communities. Scrutiny contributes to policy development and performance improvement through its review activity and plays an important part in monitoring performance and both revenue and capital expenditure.

Our scrutiny process aims to ensure that all those who contribute to overview and scrutiny - councillors, officers, co-optees, specialists or members of the public feel valued and are able to speak freely and openly. 

Our meetings are open to the public and we encourage you to get involved. Questions may be asked at the discretion of the chair. If you would like to submit a question, we require prior notification. The deadline is 12 noon two working days before the meeting. Please contact us with any questions.

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

We have statutory scrutiny roles for health, crime and disorder and flood risk management. Overview and scrutiny also involves a considerable amount of partnership working both locally and regionally with our partners and external agencies. 

Overview and Scrutiny Handbook

The Overview and Scrutiny Handbook provides information and guidance on our overview and scrutiny arrangements. It is designed for councillors, council staff, the public, our partners and regional and national organisations and agencies. You might find it helpful if you are to give evidence as part of a scrutiny review or are interested in overview and scrutiny generally.

Contact us for a copy of the Handbook.


The County Council appoint six committees each year to carry out the work of overview and scrutiny. 

These committees are aligned to the priorities in the current Council Plan.

Have your say

We believe that for scrutiny to be effective, the process must be open, fair, constructive and positive. 

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:
  • Resources
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UL