Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform: Year 3 informants report

Evaluation of Police and Fire Reform: Year 3 national key informants report and summary of evidence.

Annex 2: Summary of Evidence in 2017


This report provides a summary of evidence as part of a four year evaluation commissioned by the Scottish Government, examining whether the aims of Police and Fire reform have been met and considering what lessons might be learnt for any future public service reforms. The evaluation is now in the third year and this summary of references will draw on published reports in 2017. In this period 33 reports (23 relating to police, 8 fire, and 2 referring to both) were collated through consultation with Police Scotland, SFRS, SPA, HMICS, HMFSI and Audit Scotland, as well internet searches for relevant evidence.

The evidence review for Year 1 ( Annex 1 [30] ) was published in June 2016 and consisted of publicly available evidence produced to the end of November 2015.

The evidence review for Year 2 ( Annex 1 [31] ) was published in August 2017 and presented evidence from between November 2015 and December 2016.

This report will provide a summary of how the documentary evidence relates to each of the three aims of reform, as well as highlighting some additional relevant themes.

Reform Aim 1: To protect and improve local services despite financial cuts, by stopping duplication of support services eight times over and not cutting front line services.

Police Scotland

  • Much of the evidence for reform aim 1 is internally focused with documents produced by Police Scotland and SPA, as well as receiving external scrutiny from Audit Scotland, HMICS and academics. These documents identify progress being made in achieving this aim, as well as the challenges of governance, appropriate use of public money, gathering and monitoring data and measuring impact.
  • The HMICS inspection of call handling found that staff were providing a good service despite intensive change and development. However, on a local level in Tayside response officers were feeling stretched to meet demand. As such, there was an identified need for the division to gather and monitor data to ensure resources are effectively distributed.
  • Audit Scotland (2017) highlight in their 2016/17 audit of the Scottish Police Authority ‘unacceptable’ poor governance and poor use of public money in the SPA and Police Scotland. However, it is acknowledged that steps have been taken to ensure such occurrences are not repeated, such as a new chair and interim chief officer. These appointments should ensure that the culture, policies and operating systems of the SPA and Police Scotland are improved.
  • A study by Hail (2017) found that front line officers claimed their was too much change since reform, local support was varied depending on local leadership and communication was an issue during the implementation of reform.


  • The evidence relating to reform aim 1 for SFRS mainly comes from Audit Scotland and HMFSI and includes some challenges such as the financial environment and staffing levels, but also explains what SFRS are doing to address these challenges.
  • Audit Scotland in their planning report to the audit and risk assurance committee on the 2016/17 audit found that SFRS faces a challenging financial environment for the foreseeable future though the service are developing a long-term financial strategy to look at how it reduce costs to meet the challenge of making significant savings each year.
  • HMFSI in their control room inspection identified the challenge of maintaining minimum staffing levels at all times but that are plans are in place in rectify this.
  • In the SFRS code of conduct they outline principles relating to focuses on their purpose and outcomes for the people and communities of Scotland.

Reform Aim 2: To create more equal access to specialist support and national capacity – like murder investigation teams, firearms teams or flood rescue – where and when they are needed.

Police Scotland

  • The majority of the evidence relating to reform aim 2 was produced by the HMICS during thematic inspections with a continued commitment outlined in their annual scrutiny plan to examine firearms, forensics and cyber-crime. Both areas of good practice and ongoing challenges have been identified in the local and thematic inspections.
  • HMICS produced a review of the proposed transfer of the Scottish operations of British Transport Police to Police Scotland. This report outlines issues to be resolved relating to costs, financial impact, development of performance measures, workforce strategy and impact on the staff.
  • The HMICS inspection of SPA forensic services found an inconsistency of processes across Police Scotland due to legacy ICT systems and divisional approaches. Also identified was weak communication, strategic leadership and a lack of effective support from the SPA Board and its partners.
  • A local HMICS inspection found that there was evidence of effective event planning within Tayside, with good use being made of specialist national resources.
  • The SPA’s annual review outlined evidence of new national capacity and capability across all divisions’ e.g. major investigation teams to support murder investigations. Challenges are identified as they work towards delivering Policing 2026. The SPA would expect to see more evidence of how these demands on policing are being assessed and responded to within the context of having national capabilities and capacity.


  • The evidence which corresponds with reform aim 2 is produced by HMFSI and the Scottish Government, who outline the actions already being taken by SFRS to ensure equal access and make recommendations for the future.
  • A HMFSI inspection of operations control room in Dundee and service delivery and support in Highland, Western Isles, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, recommended that the Service should consider the new fire-fighting technologies, such as Ultra High Pressure Suppression Systems or high pressure misting, for remote rural locations where there are recruitment or reduced availability issues.
  • The delivery plan for the Scottish Government’s Justice Vision and Priorities outline the key actions SFRS will make towards priority 2 - ‘We enable our people, economy and infrastructure to respond to major risk, recover from emergencies and adapt to emerging threats’. The actions include SFRS continuing to work with partners to identify flooding and other risks, in order to prioritise and target its use of resources and support improved outcomes for communities.

Reform Aim 3: To strengthen the connection between services and communities, by creating a new formal relationship with each of the 32 local authorities, involving many more local councillors and better integrating with community planning partnerships.

Police Scotland

  • The evidence relating to reform aim 3 is both internally and externally focused, with Policing 2026 outlining police Scotland’s commitment to communities and focusing on localism.
  • Areas of good practice were identified in relation to partnership working in local area inspections and the HMICS review of stop and search found that Police Scotland had built strong working relationships with organisations representing children and young people.
  • In a local inspection of Tayside, HMICS did suggest that there is a need for more a more evaluative approach to partnership working to assess the impact and outcomes of partnership activity.
  • Written submissions were provided to the Justice sub-committee on Policing on Police Scotland’s engagement with black and minority ethnic ( BME) communities. The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights would like to see a representative, responsive, collaborative and accessible police force. Police Scotland outlined the actions they are taking to tackle racism and promote equality and community cohesion, both internally and externally.
  • A study by Malik (2017) on the SPA and police governance, identified the challenges for the SPA in holding Police Scotland to account. For effective governance of transformation, one of the recommendations that the SPA establish autonomy to position itself as a buffer between local and centrally elected representatives, and the police.
  • The SPA in their annual review, states that they would expect to see further improvement with Local Policing Plans in terms of their evidence based development, implementation and ongoing performance assessment, as well as evidence of Police Scotland’s contribution to each authority’s Local Outcome Improvement Plan.


  • Reform aim 3 evidence is both internally and externally focused, with internally strategic documents outlining the focus on communities and local inspections and academic work highlighting examples of good practice and the broadening role of the firefighter in the community.
  • In local area inspections, HMFSI, found examples of strong local partnerships and structures in place for scrutiny
  • SFRS outline their commitment to people and communities, and partnership working in their strategic documents relating to corporate governance and communications and engagement.
  • A study by Williams et al (2017) examining the broadening role of the fire service across the UK, highlighted Scotland as a good practice example of partnership working in relation to firefighters responding to out of hospital cardiac arrests in pilot areas.

Additional Emerging Themes

Additional themes emerged from the evidence which fall outside of the aims of reform, but are important for both services in helping them to achieve the aims and move into transformation.


Prevention is a key strategic priority for both services moving into transformation and is outlined in the Policing 2026 Strategy and Justice Vision and Priorities.

In the local area inspections HMFSI also made recommendations in relation to prevention work in regards to resources and staffing.


A key theme discussed by Police Scotland, SFRS, Audit Scotland and the SPA is transformation, in which they are outlining the vision for the future of the services. The strategy documents for the services including Policing 2026 and SFRS Communications and Engagement Strategy, outline their commitment to transformation.

Academics (Malik, 2017) also make recommendations regarding progress towards the governance of transformation through the SPA engaging with external stakeholders and clarifying their role.


ICT arrangements for Police Scotland were discussed in external reports by HMICS, SPA and Audit Scotland. Audit Scotland conducted a review of i6, setting out the history of the i6 programme and main reasons for terminating the contract. They also highlight the urgent need for the SPA and Police Scotland to determine the next steps to procuring, developing and delivering the IT system. In the Annual Review of Policing 2016/17, the SPA suggest work is underway towards alternative ICT solutions to i6, as part of the investment in technology associated with Policing 2026.


Areas of good practice are identified by HMICS in the thematic inspections of call handling and stop and search, with consistent, national approaches to training being highlighted. HMICS recommend equality and diversity training for Police Scotland and the SPA. In a written submission to the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, Police Scotland outline a commitment to work with the SPA to promote equality and intercultural competency training. The HMFSI local inspections also make recommendations regarding training needs for firefighters, particularly in regards to introducing standard training conditions for retained duty staff.


In the local inspections, HMICS highlight the need for Police Scotland to have more evaluative approaches to activities to ensure they are achieving positive outcomes for local communities. In Police Scotland’s written submission to the Justice Sub-Committee on Policing, they outline that they will work with partners including the SPA to develop an effective process for monitoring and evaluating the impact of stop and search practice on minority ethnic communities


Examples of structures being in place for local scrutiny arrangements were found in the HMFSI local area inspections. SFRS also highlight the importance of scrutiny in their mainstreaming report.

On a national scale for Police Scotland, HMICS found improved scrutiny of stop and search activities and highlighted the need for the SPA to have scrutiny arrangements that take place in an open and transparent way.


Effective leadership is identified as an important factor for both services in moving forward into transformation, with a need for good communication between the leaders and workforce. Audit Scotland acknowledge that ongoing changes in leadership in the SPA and Police Scotland are causing instability. On a local level, HMICS identified examples of effective and visible leadership, with leaders feeling more empowered to identify local solutions to local problems.

SFRS outline in their Code of Corporate Governance the need to develop the capacity and capability of the strategic leadership team to be effective.


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