England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

The Changing Role of the Monitoring Officer


In English councils, a monitoring officer is the statutory officer responsible for the legal governance of a local authority. They have a legal duty to ensure councils fulfil their statutory obligations and apply their codes of conduct; this includes investigating and reporting on anything the authority does that could be illegal. In other words, the monitoring officer is crucial to making sure that people trust local government.

The Local Democracy Research Centre, in partnership with Browne Jacobson and LLG (Lawyers in Local Government), has carried out research into this pivotal role and conducted a series of in-depth interviews with monitoring officers around England.

Our new report shines a light on a crucial role that is coming under severe pressure. It illuminates the importance of the role of ensuring quality governance as one of the top three council officers (the ‘top table’ or ‘golden triangle’) together with the head of paid service and the section 151 officer, who are ultimately responsible for council services that all local people rely on.

The report makes recommendations for changes to improve the status and effectiveness of the position and support monitoring officers in what is an essential job.

Download the report

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