9 steps to commissioning an independent review

What is an independent review?

An independent review is the process whereby a service being provided by an organisation is evaluated by an external party in order to gain unbiased and objective feedback. An independent review team can help your organisation to make improvements or changes to your service to enhance customer satisfaction and trust.

Every year, independent reviews feature regularly in the headlines. The growing number of allegations about sexual abuse in schools and colleges recorded on the website ‘Everyone’s Invited’ has prompted a number of institutions to take action. A thoughtfully commissioned independent review can be effective way of dealing with all manner of concerns whether they relate to safeguarding, staff conduct, or general workplace culture.

What should you look for in an independent review process?

For an independent review process to be effective it should be conducted by a team with expertise in the area in which your organisation operates.

Verita has experience of carrying out independent reviews for regulated organisations from healthcare through to social care and charities as well as private companies. They range from small desktop reviews to large, complex investigations involving multiple interviewees. Our independent investigation services cover a wide spectrum of issues but if your organisation requires a specialist approach, subject matter experts can be added to the team.

Here are 9 practical tips on commissioning an independent review and getting it right first time.

  • Recover and keep safe all relevant records at the earliest opportunity.  This minimises the opportunity for documents to be lost/mislaid or changed after the event(s).  Keep a log of what you recover.
  • Write terms of reference – think why you need a review and what you want it to achieve
  • Make immediate improvements – in short, if you can fix a system, process, policy or remedy a behaviour, then do
  • Support victims, families and staff – adverse incidents can affect all involved
  • Appoint the right review team – select carefully and with an eye to the skills & expertise needed. And not everyone needs to come from your sector. Outside perspectives bring great value.
  • Manage the process – ask for updates about process and monitor the budget. However, also recognise the review team’s independence.
  • Implement recommendations – the hardest part of the review starts at the page marked ‘recommendations’.  This is why you commissioned the work.
  • Handle communications – announce what you are doing and, if you plan on publishing the report, take expert advice and manage the process
  • Liaise with other agencies – for example, the local safeguarding board, your regulator and the police

To read more about our tips for commissioning an independent review, read our top tips in full as published on the Independent Schools Magazine website.

Verita also offer an investigations course for the workplace which will help you to understand the role and responsibilities of commissioners and investigators.

If you would like to learn more about the independent review process and how to commission an independent review,  please book a free consultation or contact Ed Marsden on 020 7494 5670 or [email protected]


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