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Inspecting for improvement? Emerging patterns of public service regulation in the UK

Downe, James Daniel and Martin, Stephen James 2007. Inspecting for improvement? Emerging patterns of public service regulation in the UK. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 25 (3) , pp. 410-422. 10.1068/c59m

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In recent years ministers in the UK have regarded external inspection as a key driver of improvement in public services and an important instrument of good governance. Detailed data analysis of the operation of Audit Commission inspection of English local authorities since April 2000 demonstrates significant variations in inspection scores in different types of authorities, in different years and in different services. These findings raise important questions about the consistency with which inspection criteria are being applied and the reliability of the evidence on which inspectors are basing their judgments about a council’s capacity for improvement. This in turn casts doubt on the capacity of the current model of improvement to make service providers more accountable to the public, which central government claims to be one of its key policy objectives. The paper uses data from the shadowing of inspections in five local authorities and elite interviews to explore the practice of ‘inspecting for improvement’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
ISSN: 14723425
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2018 21:01

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