External scrutiny of public services comprises a set of clearly defined independent activities - regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling - directed at public service providers such as local authorities, schools, care homes, housing associations, police services, prisons and hospitals. External scrutiny is important to everyone as it helps to provide assurance about the quality of services and contributes to their improvement.
Improvements to the landscape and delivery of external scrutiny have been based on a clear set of principles focussed on ensuring that external scrutiny is targeted on every area where it is needed, that it is applied proportionately and that the costs of scrutiny are balanced with the benefits to service users and other stakeholders.
In Scotland from 2011 the key organisations undertaking external scrutiny will include:
The key organisations providing oversight of complaints handling are: