Our Approach to Scrutiny

We publish our annual Scrutiny Plan around the beginning of each fiscal year, outlining our priorities and activities for the year ahead. This Plan is developed through consultation with our stakeholders and informed by an objective assessment of policing performance and risk. We make the Plan accessible to those who are likely to have interest in it and maintain a copy on our HMICS Website. We also keep the Plan under review throughtout the year.

Our scrutiny activity follows an approach, which takes account of the Crerar review, Christie report and supports production of the National Scrutiny Plan by Audit Scotland.

Local Policing+

The three objectives for Police Reform in 2012 were (i) to protect and improve local services, (ii) to create more equal access to specialist support and national capacity and (iii) to strengthen the connection between police services and communities.

In keeping with the objectives of police reform, HMICS developed a new approach to scrutiny, and introduced a rolling programme of divisional policing inspections entitled Local Policing+. This provides a consistent means assessing the quality of local policing across Scotland and enables us to report publicly on how well Police Scotland is delivering against local priorities. We are interested in the effectiveness of local scrutiny and engagement as well as the contribution policing makes to the well-being of communities. This approach includes an assessment of Partnership; Prevention; Performance, and People, in support of the wider Scottish Public Service Reform characteristics. We capture innovation and good practice and where relevant make recommendations that drive improvement.

Through our local inspections, we review the effectiveness and efficiency of both national and regional structures and the provision of specialist policing across Scotland. Our Local Policing+ programme allows sufficient flexibility to respond to new and emerging issues that inevitably arise and would benefit from our scrutiny. These issues are identified through our stakeholder engagement and our scrutiny risk assessment. In addition to publishing full reports for each of our local policing inspections, we also publish short accessible summary reports to inform local communities how well their local police Division is performing.

Thematic Reviews

We continue to use Thematic Reviews to scrutinise cross cutting issues that benefit from a more holistic review or where we choose to inspect major functions that fall out with the scope of Local Policing+. We publish full reports for each of our Thematic Reviews. We capture innovation and good practice and where relevant, we make recommendations that drive improvement. Moving forward, our Thematic Reviews may provide opportunities to work with others to consider new issues or emerging threats and provide evidence for future policy development.

Continuous Improvement Reviews

Through our programme of Continuous Improvement Reviews we continue to work closely with both Police Scotland and the SPA to report on how they are meeting their obligations to secure best value and continuous improvement. We monitor delivery against the Police Scotland Corporate Strategy and Delivery Plans and comment on the effectiveness of governance in key areas of Finance, People, Technology and Organisational Support. We also independently assess how well Police Scotland and the SPA are delivering against the Strategic Police Priorities set by Scottish Ministers and against their published Strategic Police Plan and Annual Policing Plans.

We publish concise reports for each of our Continuous Improvement Reviews, highlighting the activity that was undertaken and our commentary. These Reviews inform our wider assessment of how well Police Scotland and the SPA have met their obligations to secure best value and continuous improvement. We publish a summary of our findings in our Annual Report.

In undertaking these reviews, we work collaboratively with Audit Scotland to ensure we can discharge our respective statutory functions and reduce the scrutiny burden on Police Scotland and the SPA.

Professional Advice Note

As part of our role to provide professional advice and guidance on policing in Scotland, we use Professional Advice Notes in circumstances where we believe we can add value to the understanding of an issue without carrying out a formal inspection. 

Audit and Assurance Reviews

Our Audit and Assurance Reviews allow for more detailed scrutiny in areas where we believe there is a specific need to audit critical systems to ensure accurate and ethical recording or provide some external assurance over key processes in high risk areas. These reviews also provide opportunities for HMICS to undertake short assignments to provide independent assurance over specific aspects of policing.

We publish concise reports for each of our Audit & Assurance Reviews, highlighting our findings and any recommendations. These Reviews also inform our wider assessment of how well Police Scotland and the SPA is meeting their obligations to secure best value and continuous improvement, which we publish in our Annual Report.

Collaborative Reviews

We continue to work with other scrutiny bodies and undertake Joint Inspection activity in areas where Police Scotland or the SPA work in partnership and contribute to shared outcomes with others.