Overview and Scrutiny

The Overview and Scrutiny function is at the heart of a Councillor's role as an elected representative. In this section you will find details about the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Scrutiny Panels, relevant reports and documents, as well as find out how you can get involved. Find out more via the links on the left hand side of this page.

What is Scrutiny?

Overview and Scrutiny helps to ensure local public services are delivered effectively, efficiently and in the best interests of residents. It is an important mechanism through which public accountability can be exercised. The primary role of scrutiny is to hold local decision makers to account and to help improve local services by:

  • Reviewing and challenging decisions taken by the council and its partners (e.g. NHS, police)
  • Undertaking investigations into services or policy areas which are of interest or concern to people in Haringey
  • Making evidence based recommendations to improve services provided by the council and partner organisations

Scrutiny has wide ranging powers to investigate areas of local interest. To assist investigations scrutiny has the right to access local documents, can question decision takers, call in expert witnesses or hear evidence from other local stakeholders (eg local residents, businesses or community groups). Investigations are not restricted to council run services, as any area of interest to the local community may be investigated by scrutiny councillors.

Councillors are also able to refer any local matter relating to local government, affecting the Councillors ward or constituent to Overview and Scrutiny, through the Councillor Call for Action process.

In this context, scrutiny plays an important role in local democracy as it can help to:

  • Enhance the accountability of local services
  • Improve  the transparency of decision making; and
  • Enable Councillors to represent the views of local residents

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The role of Scrutiny

There are three main roles for scrutiny in Haringey:

1. Holding the Executive to account:

  • Questioning the Leader and Cabinet Members in a constructive manner on issues within their portfolio
  • ‘Call-in’ of a decision taken by Cabinet, Cabinet Member or an officer under delegated authority
  • Reviewing council performance and making suggestions for improvement
  • Scrutinising the activities of partner agencies

2. Policy review and development:

  • Reviewing policies and strategies developed by the council or the wider strategic partnership
  • Commissioning in-depth projects to help improve local services or to assist policy development

3. Consulting and involving local people:

  • All Committee and panel meetings are held in public
  • Examining and responding to referrals from Healthwatch Haringey
  • Operating Councillor Call for Action where members can refer matters that affect their local area

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The structure of scrutiny in Haringey

The council has an overarching Overview and Scrutiny Committee which is made up of five non-Cabinet Councillors as well as statutory co-optees. Councillors sitting on the Committee reflect the political balance of the Council.  The Committee is supported in its work by four standing scrutiny panels:

  • Adults and Health Scrutiny Panel
  • Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel
  • Environment and Community Safety Scrutiny Panel
  • Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel

Scrutiny panels are made up of between 3 and 7 councillors who are not members of the Cabinet, are chaired by members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and membership is politically proportional.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and its four Scrutiny Panels, oversee discrete policy areas and are responsible for scrutinising services or issues that fall within these portfolios. A number of scrutiny functions are dispensed by both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Scrutiny Panels which include:

  • Questioning relevant Cabinet members on areas within their portfolio
  • Monitoring service performance and making suggestions for improvement
  • Assisting in the development of local policies and strategies
  • Budget monitoring
  • Budget scrutiny (spending and saving proposals)

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee retains a number of distinct scrutiny functions not undertaken by panels which include:

  • Call-ins: where there is a challenge to decision taken by the Cabinet or individual Cabinet member or a key decision taken by an officer under delegated authority
  • Councillor call for action: where local councillors can refer matters of genuine and persistent concern which have not been possible to resolve through usual council processes.

As the ‘parent’ Committee, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is required to approve panel work programmes and ratify reports and recommendations developed by scrutiny panels.

The website in the external links section below also has pages relating to scrutiny.

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Your comments

The work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Scrutiny Review Panels is designed to be as open and accessible as possible. If you have any comments on these web pages or any work relating to Overview and Scrutiny, then please contact:

Overview and Scrutiny
5th Floor
River Park House
255 High Road
Wood Green
N22 8HQ

Tel 020 8489 2920
Email scrutiny@haringey.gov.uk

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Page last updated:

November 15, 2022

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