Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Executive: review

This review considers how the executive of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) can most effectively support the board to deliver its statutory functions.

Reviewers' Foreword

Nicola Marchant, Deputy Chair of the SPA Malcolm Burr, Chief Executive, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

In June 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice asked us to undertake a Review, to consider how the Executive of the Scottish Police Authority ( SPA) can most effectively support the Board to deliver its statutory functions. This Review report and recommendations represent our assessment of the evidence gathered during the review process and how we see that the challenges identified here can be addressed.

An essential aspect of the review process was our engagement throughout the process with the SPA's key delivery partners and stakeholders. Acknowledging the collaborative nature of the SPA, we focussed on gathering intelligence and evidence from a wide partnership of organisations within the policing context, including Police Scotland, local authorities, staff associations and unions, criminal justice agencies and the not–for–profit sector, but also highlighting a requirement to reach out further afield in Scottish civic life. We believe that it is essential that the SPA is recognised and acknowledged as a public body that considers the views of wider society when discharging its statutory functions.

Our report acknowledges that there have been a number of significant changes to policing at a national level, in addition to a number of audits and reviews, which have led to a period of transition in the scrutiny and accountability arrangements of policing in Scotland. Aside from the legal requirements, there are many differing models for ensuring accountability and effective scrutiny of policing. 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.

We have clustered our findings and recommendations around the following four critical themes:

i. How the SPA Executive and the SPA Board can best work together;
ii. The SPA's engagement with its delivery partners and stakeholders, particularly in local government;
iii. Organisational structures and corporate processes; and
iv. Ways of working.

In summary, our strategic objective with this report is to seek to ensure that the SPA is standing up for the wider public interest in support for, as well as scrutiny of, policing, progressing the understanding by all key players of the importance of proportionate and effective scrutiny, and lastly the need to create the conditions to support this approach by developing the right organisational framework and leadership capabilities within the SPA.

We believe this report and its recommendations will provide pointers and insights to help the SPA leadership team and leaders in partner organisations to plan more effectively. In addition, this report presents useful background information on the SPA organisational journey so far and therefore a platform for change.

Our recommendations have been developed from stakeholder interviews and we believe that they offer an insight for the new Chair and Interim Chief Officer to consider as they continue to develop the SPA and make inroads in addressing the challenges the SPA has been facing since inception and re-establish the organisation in its rightful place in Scotland's civic life.

Through this review we look forward to this vision being turned into a reality and to this end we have also offered the Cabinet Secretary our support to the new SPA Interim Chief Officer and Chair as they consider our review and recommendations to ensure that development work in this area is contextualised and addresses the challenges we have identified. It will be clearly up to the judgement and discretion of the SPA's new Interim Chief Officer and Chair how to best implement these recommendations either in full or in part through a phased approach, but we stand ready to support.

Lastly, we would like to thank those who have contributed to this Review, first and foremost the SPA Executive staff who have provided unique insights from their experience of working on the ground and for their open and constructive input, and to our Scottish Government colleagues who have assisted us with the organisation and management of the Review process. Our thanks also go to a wide range of organisations in the justice and policing field, and the wider Scottish public sector.

Malcolm Burr,
Chief Executive,
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Nicola Marchant,
Deputy Chair of the SPA


Back to top