This is my second annual report as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary ( HMCIC) for Scotland, having been appointed to that position on 29 March 2007. In it I comment on the state and efficiency of policing in Scotland, as well as on the work of the Inspectorate, for the period April 2007 to March 2008.
This year has been a significant one, both for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland ( HMICS) and for the police service in Scotland. Internally, we have made fundamental changes to our inspection regime, moving to a self-assessment model supported by shorter, sharper thematic inspections. The reasons behind these changes and some of our early work and results are discussed in Chapter 2. Externally we have seen a new political environment, an inquiry by the Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament into the management and deployment of police officers and its subsequent report Inquiry into the Effective Use of Police Resources1, the first year of operation of the Scottish Police Services Authority ( SPSA) and the significant challenges of responding to two separate terrorist incidents.
Alongside this report I am publishing the first annual report of the Scottish Policing Performance Framework ( SPPF). The SPPF is a collaborative development between key stakeholders in the service, who collectively have achieved a great deal in making this happen. For the first time we can now examine performance at a national level across a wide range of common performance indicators. The accompanying report reflects my observations on the performance of forces as measured by the framework. I believe this first year represents a good start but it is clear that there is further work to be done in improving the way data are gathered by forces and in aligning the framework with the objectives and measures contained within the new single outcome agreements for local authorities. The implications of these changes and challenges are discussed more fully in Chapter 3.
Last year I wrote that in most areas the police service in Scotland was 'the best that it has ever been'. I maintain this view, but have been disappointed to find that a few have taken this to mean that further change is unnecessary. On the contrary, I believe that there is always room for improvement. Achieving excellence in any profession is a continuing endeavour not a winning line to be crossed.
During 2008 the Inspectorate commemorated its 150th anniversary. Looking back over my predecessors' annual reports since 1859, it is clear that the challenges I have highlighted this year are not entirely new or even recent phenomena. In fact some have been recurrent over decades. While in many instances progress has and is being made, in some areas the pace of change could be more rapid.
For example, there are very few service organisations whether public, private or voluntary, which do not tell service users what they can expect in the way of nationally or locally agreed, user-focused standards. The same ought to be true of the police service in Scotland but it is not yet the case. I further believe that the way in which police services are provided should be inspected against these same standards. In the past year, this has been possible in some thematic inspections where clear standards already exist, although I note that these are often neither identified as such nor easily accessible to the public or even to some within the profession. However, the progress in this matter to date has been made with less swiftness than I judge appropriate and I will be particularly interested in monitoring developments in the coming year.
Following a recommendation made by the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee, and at the direction of the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, I have been asked to undertake an independent review of policing. This will involve re-examining the roles and responsibilities of policing services in Scotland and making recommendations for the organisation, governance and accountability that can best support these. I am delighted that the opportunity to conduct a fundamental review of the way in which policing is delivered has arisen, and I look forward to working closely with the service and all stakeholders to achieve this.
The men and women who comprise Scotland's police service have met with skill, selflessness and, not infrequently, great courage, operational challenges that could not have been envisaged at the inception of a recognisably modern police service some 200 years ago. Indeed some of the local, national and global problems with which the present day service now contends would not have been foreseeable even at the last major restructuring of the police service over 30 years ago. Despite new demands and risks arising from a rapidly changing world I am confident that, while the institutions and organisation of policing will necessarily evolve, the professionalism and vocation of police officers in every discipline - increasingly supported by committed police staff colleagues - will overcome any test to deliver the excellence in policing that all communities who live, work in or visit Scotland rightly expect and deserve.
Paddy Tomkins QPM, BA (Hons), RCDS
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland