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Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019

Section 4 - Power to investigate on own initiative

27.This power allows the Ombudsman to investigate a matter whether the Ombudsman has received a complaint or not, so it allows the Ombudsman to initiate an investigation.

28.This has a significant effect on the interpretation of the Act – when the word “investigation” is used in Part 3, it can mean either an investigation under section 3 or an investigation under section 4. For example, section 19 applies “in relation to an investigation conducted under this Part”. Therefore, section 19 applies in relation to an investigation of a complaint under section 3 and an own initiative investigation under section 4.

29.Like the power under section 3, the power in section 4 can only be used to investigate matters the Ombudsman is entitled to investigate under Part 3. Sections 11 to 16 set out the matters which may be investigated.

30.Section 4(2) sets out requirements that must be met before the Ombudsman can begin an own initiative investigation. The requirements are:


the Ombudsman must have regard to whether it is in the public interest to begin an own initiative investigation;


the Ombudsman must have a reasonable suspicion that there is systemic maladministration or a reasonable suspicion that systemic injustice has been sustained as a result of the exercise of professional judgement in connection with the provision of health or social care;


the Ombudsman must consult such persons the Ombudsman thinks appropriate; and


the Ombudsman must have regard to the own initiative criteria published under section 5.

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