Scottish Police Authority To Be Scrutinised In Watchdog Inspection

A police watchdog is to carry out an inspection of the single force's oversight body after criticism of its accounts and governance.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) confirmed the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) would be scrutinised in 2017/18, with planning due to get under way in March.

The review will look at the "state, efficiency and effectiveness'' of the SPA, which oversees the £1.1 billion annual police budget and is responsible for holding the Chief Constable to account.

Last month, Audit Scotland identified "substantial issues'' with the SPA's accounts and said both it and Police Scotland suffered from "weak financial leadership and management'', and were facing a funding gap of £188 million by 2020/21.

At the same time, a separate report by HMICS identified "major financial challenges'', recommended that both the SPA and Police Scotland should "urgently review and strengthen'' their approach to governance and questioned the SPA's decision to hold committee meetings in private.

Confirming the SPA inspection, HMICS said: "As SPA will be implementing its new governance arrangements early in 2017, Derek Penman, Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, has decided that it would be timely for HMICS to conduct a statutory inspection into the state, efficiency and effectiveness of the Scottish Police Authority.

"Our inspection will incorporate a wider review of the SPA, the work of its officers and the services it provides.

"This will be our first statutory inspection of the SPA and will involve an evidence-led review of the new governance arrangements.

"It will focus on the SPA oversight of transformational change, financial sustainability, people, audit and the new policing committee.

"It will also include an assessment of how these committees operate in private.''

An SPA spokeswoman said: "It is the role of the HMICS to carry out inspections on both Police Scotland and the SPA's operations, and we will support them in the forthcoming wide-ranging review.

"As highlighted at our public board meeting in December, the SPA adopted a revised governance framework whereby all significant decisions that require the approval of the SPA will now be taken by the full board of publicly-appointed authority members.

"Board meetings will be more frequent and continue to be held in public and broadcast via livestream.

"In addition, the board has delegated additional functions to the chief executive which will enhance the overall efficiency and timeliness of decision-making.

"The approach will be reviewed again in six months' time.''

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