Overview and Scrutiny

Our Overview and Scrutiny process examines decisions made by the Council’s Cabinet and Cabinet Members. It also reviews our policies and those of other local public bodies, suggesting improvements and new policies where needed.

It is carried out by elected Councillors (except those sitting in the Cabinet) and co-opted experts, with support from Council officers. We also welcome residents’ contributions to the process.

Get involved in Overview and Scrutiny

Overview and Scrutiny Committees

We have four Overview and Scrutiny Committees, which meet at least six times a year:

Remit, rights and powers

Committee meetings often involve:

  • Reviewing current or proposed Council policies
  • Questioning Cabinet Members, senior officers and external partners in person
  • Examining performance monitoring data
  • Keeping up to date with the progress of Task Groups

The Committees influence decision-makers by probing, investigating, encouraging, persuading, reporting and recommending. To help fulfil this role, they can require information from Cabinet Members or Council Officers, either in person or in writing.

They can also ‘call in’ a decision taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet Members, which delays the decision’s implementation. This puts the decision on hold and allows the Committee to examine it and, if they choose, ask the decision-maker to reconsider.

However, Committees do not have the power to take decisions themselves, overturn those taken by the Cabinet or Cabinet Members or insist that their recommendations are adhered to.

The Health, Housing and Adult Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee has special powers and responsibilities conferred on it by the Health and Social Care Act 2001. Its remit is to review and scrutinise health service matters and make reports and recommendations to NHS bodies. The legislation also gives this Committee the power to refer contested major service reconfigurations to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

The primary aim of Health Scrutiny is to help improve the health of local people by addressing health inequalities and by working with the NHS and other partner organisations. The Committee often works closely with similar committees from adjacent Boroughs, as residents frequently cross Borough boundaries to receive health care.


Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees, including Chairs and Vice-Chairs, are appointed at the Annual Council meeting in May each year. Each Committee is politically proportionate to the number of seats each group holds on the Council.

The Committees also co-opt members of the public to serve on them. Co-opted Members usually have particular experience in the field in question, either as professionals or service users. With the exception of some co-optees on the Education and Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, co-opted members do not have the right to vote.

Task Groups

Task Groups are smaller than Committees and tend to work more flexibly and informally, as they are set up to examine specific issues in detail. They are made up of three to six members of the appropriate Committee or Committees and have the support of a dedicated Scrutiny Officer.

Choosing what to investigate

In the spring of each year, Councillors, Council officers, partner agencies and the public are asked to suggest issues for Scrutiny to investigate. This could be a review of an existing policy or service, or a developing a new policy.

You can also suggest an issue for Scrutiny at any time.

Gathering evidence

Each Task Group sets itself clear terms of reference. The Group refers to these throughout the review, particularly when it is deciding what information to gather and what witnesses to hear from. The Group can obtain information through many different sources, including:

  • face-to-face interviews
  • questionnaires
  • focus groups
  • site visits
  • reports
  • written submissions

The most common witnesses are Council Officers, representatives from partner agencies and service users.

Reporting findings and recommendations

When the Task Group has finished gathering evidence, it reports its findings to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee and recommends achievable improvements or developments.

What happens next?

The Group’s report is discussed by the Committee, and if approved, is sent to the Council’s Cabinet.

Cabinet has a duty to respond to the recommendations and will decide whether to fully accept, partially accept or reject them. Sometimes the Task Group will also make recommendations to partner organisations, such as the NHS Primary Care Trust.

The relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee receives an update report six months later, which details the progress made in implementing the accepted recommendations. This allows the Committee to ensure that the improvements identified by the report are delivered.

Current and completed Task Groups

There are no Task Groups currently in progress.

View the outcome of previous Task Groups

Scrutiny publications

Annual reports

Overview and Scrutiny is required by the Constitution to report annually to full Council on the workings of the Scrutiny function:

External review of Overview and Scrutiny

External review's final report(pdf, 203KB)

Make an enquiry

Scrutiny Team
Democratic Services
London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
York House
Richmond Road

Email: scrutiny@richmond.gov.uk
Telephone: 020 8891 7158
Fax: 020 8891 7701

Updated: 27 March 2014