Review of Scotland’s police watchdog a ‘missed opportunity’

Police have said Glasgow murder victim James Watt was allegedly in another altercation before his death
Police have said Glasgow murder victim James Watt was allegedly in another altercation before his death
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A review of the beleaguered Scottish Police Authority has been described as a “missed opportunity” for being too narrow in focus.

A report yesterday said parts of the organisation had not operated as “smoothly and effectively” as they could have done. But it said there were “no fundamental issues” with the framework or the structure of the SPA as it was set up.

Written by Western Isles Council chief executive Malcolm Burr and SPA deputy chair Nicola Marchant, it set out 17 recommendations for improvement.

Ms Marchant was understood to be the subject of criticism from the Scottish Parliament’s audit committee when it last week said it did not have confidence in certain SPA board members.

In a joint statement, Mr Burr and Ms Marchant said: “Our view is that the model provided by the SPA is fundamentally sound and the grand challenge we have identified and seek to address in this report is ensuring that this model operates effectively and efficiently, as was originally intended.

“In essence, our findings are that it is timely for the SPA to refocus and refresh itself to ensure that it is operating in an effective and efficient manner and fulfilling its role, as defined in the founding legislation.”

The report said the SPA had so far been unable to develop an “outwardly focussed approach” and needed to refresh its engagement and communications strategy.

And it said the board too often relied on advice from Police Scotland, leading to “blurred boundaries” between the two organisations.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “This report is welcome as far as it goes but it represents a missed opportunity for real reform.

“This was a comparatively narrow examination of the SPA board’s capacity, support and approach but the problems are so much deeper.

“The report didn’t look at the roles of all the other key players, not least the justice secretary, chief officers, parliament and local councils.”

Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “This review has uncovered a catalogue of poor management procedures, lack of communication, lack of community involvement and poor quality leadership.

“Sadly the review also states that this SNP mess has not been cleared up yet.”

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