Her Majesty's inspectorates in the education and police services of England and Wales : comparative patterns of conflict and accommodation
2014-12-15T10:41:43Z (GMT) by
This research is an empirically based, comparative study of the inspectorates in two high profile areas of public concern, the education and police services and explores the realities and complexities of an increasingly politically favoured instrument, inspection, in regulation regimes. It uses case study methodology and data collected by semi-structured interviews and textual analysis of literature, and reports and other documents published by the two inspectorates and associated organisations. The study has the aims of contextualising the role and place of the inspectorates and of establishing if they are an aid to the achievement of accountability; whether they are independent assessors; and whether any aid given could be extended to a wider population of "stakeholders". It seeks to identify ways that any benefits given could be increased and to relate the findings to other scholarship and draw out new insights, particularly those relating to the factors which determine the nature of the regime. Considerably more conflict was revealed than might be expected within and between organisations commonly funded by the public purse. Four methods of resolving this were detected, "co-operation", "constraint", "collaboration" and "compromise". The inspectorates give definite assistance to the accountable parties by the information they provide but this is restricted by their being agents of Central Government control rather than independent assessors. Greater assistance would be given (including that offered to a wider population of stakeholders) if they were made truly independent. Multiple factors were found to determine the punitive nature of regimes, by far the most important being Central Government's attitude and wishes. Intensive, rigorous inspection is seen as the favoured way ahead in the short term but its extensive use in the longer term is challenged, given an improvement in the line management of public services and the establishment and extension of the use and influence of credible Performance Indicators.