Police authority “culture of failure” outlined by damning new report

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today called for the Scottish Government to lay out a clear timetable for addressing “damning” governance issues at the Scottish Police Authority after a new report identified a series of major issues at the beleaguered authority.

The HMICS inspection of the Scottish Police Authority says:

  • There is no clear vision, strategy or plan in place for the SPA resulting in a lack of wider understanding of the intended outcomes and steps which require to be taken to achieve the Board’s vision.
  • There has been “limited progress” to tackle structural issues, and “HMICS views that the risk of governance being affected by individual interpretations of the legislation, and not delivering the required culture change, still remains.” This should have been addressed as an “immediate priority”.
  • The Chair and a number of Board members are acting well outwith their core non-executive role.
  • Effective engagement with staff associations and unions in the system of governance is very limited.
  • The SPA has “failed to advocate its position” in relation to financial challenges facing policing.
  • “There is a fundamental conflict of interest in the SPA being both a service provider to and scrutiny body of Policy Scotland”.

Mr McArthur said:

“Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned for years that the structure of the national force embedded too much power and authority in a small number of hands.

“This report clearly demonstrates that the structures managing the scrutiny of one of our most pivotal public services are ambiguous at best. Robust accountability of the police cannot be dependent on the whim of those who have a seat at the table.

“It is this centralisation of power which has contributed to the damning culture of failure outlined in this report. This is not good enough for officers, staff or the public they serve.

“This report is clear that we need a new corporate structure and a review of the roles of the chair and board members. The Scottish Government and SPA must now lay out a timetable for this to take place.”

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