Police Scotland Service 'High Quality', Performance Review Finds

Police Scotland continues to provide ''a high-quality'' service across the country, an annual review of its performance has found.

The 2016/17 assessment by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) found crime is reducing in most categories while the majority of crimes are being detected.

However, it noted there had been an increase in some violent crime and sexual crimes.

The force dealt with 2.6 million calls during the year, up 1.1% on the previous year, and recorded 1.6 million incidents, the review states.

There was a 2.4% decrease in recorded crime while the force saw a 0.6% decrease in overall violent crime.

But there was a 5.2% increase in some non-sexual violent crimes, driven by increases in serious assaults, robberies, threats and extortion, while sexual crime also rose by 5.2%.

Some progress has already been made to address the increases while action has also been taken to tackle under-reporting, the review found.

Elsewhere, it noted local policing is ''continuously improving'', with feedback from local authority scrutiny bodies that community interests are being taken into account.

Meanwhile, at the end of 2016/17, public confidence levels reported by Police Scotland stood at 81% but there is recognition more data is needed in this area.

The SPA said an improved approach to measuring public confidence will be a priority over the next three years.

The annual review also looked at the performance of the SPA itself, which is tasked with oversight of the force.

The organisation has been fiercely criticised over the past few months amid concerns over transparency and governance.

The intense scrutiny resulted in the resignation of SPA chair Andrew Flanagan last week.

Police Scotland and the SPA have also come under fire in recent years over weak financial leadership, the failure of a £46 million IT system and the robustness of its call-handling system.

Despite these high-profile issues, the review found oversight of policing had been strengthened by the SPA board, which has ''enhanced its skills and experience in key areas such as finance, audit and ICT, and reinforced its grip of the police budget and oversight of key change programmes like call handling''.

However, it acknowledged further work is required to ''better clarify'' the SPA's role and impact.

Mr Flanagan said: ''SPA has assessed that Police Scotland met its annual objectives and continued to deliver a service to a high quality and consistency.

''The Policing 2026 programme has provided unprecedented insight into what we do now, what we will require to do in the future and how to move from one to the other.

''The strategy aims to ensure that policing is organised, skilled and flexible enough to respond to wider societal needs and sophisticated threats.

''SPA's assessment is that we have good foundations for progressing to the next crucial phase of true service transformation and greater confidence in policing's direction and our collective ability to reach that destination than we could have stated 12 months ago.''

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