A thematic inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) into the functions of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has concluded that the model of governance by an independent police authority is a sound one.
14 recommendations for the SPA, the Scottish Government and Police Scotland are made in the inspection report. Its aim was to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the SPA in terms of fulfilling its core role and scrutinise how it was meeting its statutory obligations.
The report also noted there has been genuine progress at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) over the past 18-24 months. However it also found that, six years after it was established, challenges still remain for the SPA in terms of fulfilling its core statutory role. Differing interpretations of the Act, associated roles and responsibilities, and its implementation have continued to cause confusion and uncertainty as to the SPA’s governance role as defined in the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) 2012 Act. The negative consequences of each differing interpretation have been primarily on public confidence, the wider reputation of policing and on some of its staff.
The Scottish Police Authority Chief Executive should lead and expedite the implementation of a new Scottish Police Authority corporate structure and ensure an appropriate focus on existing staff wellbeing.
The Scottish Government should clarify in what respects the Scottish Police Authority differs from other public bodies and specify the implications for the system of governance for policing.
The Scottish Government and the Scottish Police Authority should undertake an immediate review of the roles of the Chair and Board members in executive work, in line with principles of good governance, empowering the Scottish Police Authority executive team to assume operational management of the organisation.
The Scottish Government, the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland should develop a clear system of engagement and governance for reserved policing matters.
The Scottish Police Authority should proceed to formally co-opt COSLA to their Board and appropriate Sub-Committees in order to enhance the link between local and national policing.
The Scottish Government, the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland should review the designation of Accountable Officer(s) within policing.
The Scottish Police Authority should implement effective engagement and feedback mechanisms with staff associations and unions as part of a wider stakeholder engagement and consultation approach.
The Scottish Police Authority executive team should develop proposals for effective governance of change and transformation, bringing forward proposals as a matter of urgency.
The Scottish Police Authority executive team should develop and secure approval from the Board for a new corporate plan.
The Scottish Police Authority should further develop its self-assessment and performance monitoring approach to include examples and measures of the Scottish Police Authority’s own impact on continuous improvement.
The Scottish Police Authority requires to set out in detail how it will exercise its duty to hold the Chief Constable to account through its system of governance.
The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland should develop a forward planning system of proactive risk awareness and post-implementation scrutiny for policing policy changes which are likely to have an impact on public confidence.
The Scottish Police Authority should review the role of the Forensics Committee to work effectively with other Scottish Police Authority Committees and review the optimum governance and delivery options for Forensic Services.
The Scottish Police Authority should improve visibility of the work of the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme, direct scrutiny of custody arrangements and outcomes for detainees. It should also review the optimum governance and delivery options for the Independent Custody Visiting Scheme.