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Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019

Section 44 - Power to investigate on own initiative

169.Section 44 allows the Ombudsman to initiate an investigation into a matter to which Part 5 applies, whether the Ombudsman has received a complaint or not.

170.This has a significant effect on the interpretation of the Act – when the word “investigation” is used in Part 5, it can mean either an investigation under section 43 or an investigation under section 44. For example, section 53 applies “for the purposes of an investigation under this Part”. Therefore, section 53 applies in relation to an investigation into a complaint under section 43 and an own initiative investigation under section 44.

171.The power in section 44 can only be used to investigate matters the Ombudsman is entitled to investigate under Part 5. Section 42 sets out those matters.

172.Section 44(3) 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;


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


the Ombudsman must have regard to the own initiative criteria published under section 45.

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