POLICE authority chiefs have spent more than a quarter of a million pounds on a single consultant at a time when the service is facing huge cuts as it moves to a single national force.
The deal, which has lasted just over two years, was criticised as “a substantial waste of resources” yesterday by Unison.
John Fox-Davies was employed through Hays Recruitment to help form the new national force as director of strategy and development in December 2010, on a 12-month contract, after his predecessor, Jo Bingham, had been seconded to work on police reform.
However, even after she returned to work, his contract was extended as the SPSA decided he had an indispensable knowledge of how they would handle reform. Mr Fox-Davies’ contract was then extended for a second time and he became lead executive on strategy, planning and performance, running the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) team responsible for the delivery of a strategic police plan.
In the financial year 2010-11, police spent £43,394 on his role, followed by £134,884 in 2011-12, and £103,573 last year. His current contract is due to end on 31 March. This comes at a time when around 1,000 police jobs have gone in the past 18 months, while 1,400 more are expected to be cut.
Mr Fox-Davies is not the only example of contractors being brought in to the police authority. Despite dozens of press office workers deployed in forces across Scotland, a freelancer, Lucy Adamson, was brought in by Police Scotland as their interim communications adviser.
The merger to a national police force is expected to save £1.3 billion over 15 years, according to the Scottish Government.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “The whole point of the single force was to make policing more affordable and more efficient.
“But when the public see cases like this, they begin to question whether or not that is happening. It’s essential that best value for the public purse is secured, now more than ever. It’s now up to the single force to prove that is happening with this appointment.”
The amount paid to Mr Fox-Davies also drew an angry response from Unison, the public sector union. Dave Watson, head of bargaining and campaigns, said: “There are many people who could have been called in to do this kind of work, particularly when you are involved in a merger situation.
“Bringing people in from outside seems to be a substantial waste of resources at a time when resources are very tight. We’re not big fans of bringing in consultants, and there has been an effort across the public sector to reduce the reliance on consultancy. The amount of money spent on them has gone down and that was welcome, so this is disappointing.”
However, the SPA defended the appointment and said it was crucial they had been able to attract the right team to take reform forward.
Andrea Quinn, interim chief executive of the SPA, said: “Relatively little had been done to prepare the ground for the establishment of the SPA before members were appointed.
“We are delighted by the people we have been able to attract – from within policing, from central government and from local government. It’s a small team … we have made no permanent appointments.”