Concerns over police chief's salary rise as role '˜shrinking'

MSPs have raised concerns after the Scottish Police Authority increased the salary it pays its chief executive despite reducing the size of his job.

Picture: John Devlin
Picture: John Devlin

Hugh Grover was appointed to lead the SPA in August in a role which commands a £117,000 salary.

The post’s responsibilities were reduced when controversial former chief executive John Foley took early retirement last year, receiving a £57,000 golden handshake payment on top of an early retirement payment of £43,470.

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MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s audit committee said that despite a reduction in the role and its salary under an interim chief executive, Mr Grover was now being paid a similar salary to Mr Foley.

Questioning Auditor General Caroline Gardner, Tory MSP Liam Kerr said: “Last summer, the former chief executive was made redundant on the justification the role had shrunk.

“There was an interim chief executive who came in on a lower salary which stacks up if the role was smaller. The new chief executive is back on the original salary, which seems rather strange to me. Has the chief executive role now re-expanded to what is was before? If not, why are we paying more?”

Ms Gardner said: “You’re absolutely right that the justification for making the former chief executive redundant was a reduction in the size of the role due to the removal of forensic services from his reporting responsibilities.

“My concern is not about the salary being paid to the current chief executive, I think it’s a significant job with significant responsibilities as accountable officer for more than a billion pounds worth of public money.

“My concerns are about the decision-making process which took place around the former chief executive, which I reported to the committee last year.”

But another committee member, SNP MSP Alex Neil, said the SPA had ignored concerns raised last year about the chief executive’s salary.

He said: “Can I suggest we write to the chair of the board asking why this was agreed? This committee was very clear last year that we thought the chief executive’s position was well overpaid.

“There’s no point us making decisions and then having them ignored by quangos.”

The committee also heard evidence about governance problems at Community Justice Scotland, an agency set up by the Scottish Government last year which has been without a permanent chair of its board for over a year.

Mr Neil said the performance of CJS had been “shambolic”.