Strathclyde Police Authority still not up to scratch, warns report
THE body in charge of Scotland’s largest police force has been criticised for making “little progress” in addressing concerns about its performance raised in a government report a year ago.
The Accounts Commission and the Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland expressed worries about Strathclyde Police Authority (SPA) in July 2011, and made recommendations on how it should improve.
A new report published today by the two organisations has complained that the overall pace of change at the authority is “slow” and that they are “disappointed with progress”.
The latest report says that the authority needs to do much better in holding the force to account, with more support and training to help councillors fulfil their scrutiny role.
The SPA is an independent body made up of local councillors who work with the justice secretary and the chief constable to manage the policing of Strathclyde.
The report stated most of the recommendations for improvement made in the 2011 report had still not been fully implemented and there was little evidence that the authority was actively involved in setting future policing priorities.
Citing an example of this lack of involvement, the commission said that, last winter, the force invited all 34 councillors on the authority to come to strategic planning workshops, but they were “poorly attended”, with only three members taking part in the first meeting in December and just one member attended the January session.
Last year’s joint best-value audit had said the authority needed to “strengthen its arrangements for oversight of Strathclyde Police”, and that members needed better support and training to “develop understanding, build skills and gain greater confidence in holding the chief constable to account”.
The latest report said that while there had been progress in strengthening the SPA’s scrutiny of the force’s performance and financial monitoring, there remained an “absence of genuine joint decision-making and limited evidence that the chief executive was being held to account for the performance of the office or delivery of the improvement agenda”.
The commission acknowledged that the authority’s composition had changed considerably following the election of new councillors and a new convener in May this year, stating that while it was disappointed with overall progress over the past 12 months, it was “encouraged” by the SPA’s adoption of a new improvement plan.
Reacting to the report, SPA convener Phillip Braat said that the committee had been “working hard to address its conclusions”. He added: “As noted by Audit Scotland, the Strathclyde area is well served by its police force and the authority closely monitors the force’s use of resources as well as its position on savings and efficiencies.”
He acknowledged, however, that more time was needed to meet all the recommendations.
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