Publication - Report

Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Executive: review

Published: 2 Mar 2018
Cabinet Secretary for Justice
Safer Communities Directorate
Part of:
Law and order

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

43 page PDF

382.8 kB

43 page PDF

382.8 kB

Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Executive: review
2 Key Findings and Recommendations

43 page PDF

382.8 kB

2 Key Findings and Recommendations

2A – SPA Executive and the Board: Working Together

Terms of Reference

" 1. How the Executive of the SPA works with Police Scotland to collectively provide the information required to support the Board take informed, transparent decisions in the context of the guidance set out in "On Board: A guide for Members of Statutory Bodies"

Key Issue

51. The SPA had to establish itself as a new organisation within a new statutory landscape by bringing together a new approach to the scrutiny and accountability of policing at a national level. This included the resourcing and support for the delivery of policing by Police Scotland as well as undertaking operational functions such as overseeing the provision of forensic services and independent custody visits at a time of significant changes to the policing landscape.

52. The pace and scale of change to the policing landscape and organisational structures, which were previously operating at local level, meant that the SPA and the discharge of its statutory functions have not bedded in as quickly as expected in the new scrutiny and policing landscape.

53. In particular, the SPA leadership and business structures have not operated as smoothly and effectively as they could have done due to challenges with a rapid requirement for the SPA to become operational, and without the time to build the necessary teams and operating culture as well as to assess and develop skills, both old and new.


54. Our review of evidence has highlighted that since inception the SPA Board has not received the appropriate support from the SPA leadership team to be able to operate at the necessary strategic level and as a result of this adopted a stronger, necessary focus on more operational and business matters.

55. Various challenges have come into play in this area. First of all, there must be a recognition that the CEO fulfils a role which is key to the success of the SPA as an organisation. Although the CEO and the Board play separate and distinct roles they must work together in order to deliver the SPA organisational role and statutory functions. The role of the CEO must be fully understood and valued by Police Scotland, the Forensic Services and the Board.

56. Role clarity is essential to ensure that there is a productive relationship between the CEO and the Board, which the CEO supports and serves. The Board is effectively a key internal component within the SPA, which the CEO needs to support and serve effectively. The CEO should be the primary contact with the Board and have responsibility for and manage the relationship between Police Scotland and the Board, and the Forensics Services and the Board.

57. It is essential that the CEO role has the appropriate support from within the SPA Executive to fulfil these duties as their primary function. Evidence has shown that in the early stages of the formation of the SPA, the CEO was principally focussed on establishing the policy, governance and then more latterly the finance framework for the new organisation, as the post also acts as Accountable Officer ( AO).

58. One of the consequences of this lack of support and focus on operational matters has been that some Board Members have necessarily stepped into traditional Executive rather than Non–Executive Board Member roles. At present, the Board is not using the CEO as its advisor but is instead seeking advice elsewhere, sometimes directly from Police Scotland, which has the capacity to blur boundaries. This has resulted in the SPA Executive staff not receiving the required leadership and not being able to focus on the right tasks to support both the CEO and the Board.

59. The Board must ensure that it is able to make informed, evidence-based decisions. This requires the provision of Board papers, not only from Police Scotland and/or the Forensic Services, but an analytical overview of the external landscape, informed by the views of key stakeholders, which in our view should be facilitated by the SPA Executive Team. A recent example can be found in the consideration and critical evaluation of major developments and initiatives in policing, such as cyber issues, and deciding major operational policy issues, which may cause public concern. Other examples are the strategic monitoring and overview of the SPA business and ensuring that there is good governance through focussed and targeted reports on finance, operational activities, complaints and trends, the development of wider plans supporting other strategies, such as stakeholder engagement and communication, and the role of technological innovations and resources.

60. It is also our view that in order for Board Members to operate at a more strategic level, they need to be supported effectively to ensure that their skills are up to date and relevant, especially given the dynamic nature of policing. To this end, Board Members need to be allowed the required space for reflection and a supporting environment to consider its direction and major issues. Notwithstanding the move to a skills-based Board, evidence shows that there have been difficulties in ensuring that the Board remains sighted to live and emerging issues, such as changes to data protection legislation, the introduction of drug driving testing, and the potential impact on policing and forensics.

Our Assessment

61. It is our view that there are essentially no fundamental issues with both the framework and structure of the SPA as originally envisaged.

62. Although the SPA has a broad remit, it is not particularly unique in the Scottish governance context in that there are other statutory bodies fulfilling a wide range of disparate functions (for example the Care Inspectorate combining both regulatory and inspection functions and SEPA combining regulatory functions alongside its role in flood risk management and flood warning).

63. On reviewing the experience in police scrutiny and accountability from other areas of the UK, Ireland and overseas, there is a clear indication that the organisational model offered by the SPA follows arrangements already established elsewhere and actually represents a point of reference within the wider UK landscape.

64. To enable this model to operate effectively, the SPA needs to engage meaningfully with key delivery partners and gain insights into live and critical issues. Over the course of the Review, it has been observed that stakeholders frequently feel that their only opportunity to input to Board decisions is after they have been made at public Board meetings, which can lead to conflict. This has engendered a perception that the Board is not making sufficiently informed decisions during meetings.

65. In terms of the information requirements to support the Board, the SPA CEO/ AO should be able to request specific information ( e.g. financial, HR, risks, trends etc.) and commission specific work packages of both the Chief Financial Officer and HR Director at Police Scotland so that the SPA Board is properly informed and supported in its role. This approach should not result in undue interference of the SPA in Police Scotland operational matters, but simply emphasise more overtly the fiduciary duty of Police Scotland's CFO and HR Director towards the SPA since, in expending these resources and in managing these employees, Police Scotland is effectively acting as "agents" for the SPA, which holds these statutory responsibilities.


Recommendation 1

The Chief Executive Officer ( CEO) will be recognised as undertaking the most important role in the management of the organisation and will be key to the successful re-positioning and strengthening of the SPA by re-affirming the role it was originally intended to have. The CEO should be afforded the required latitude of scope and support from the SPA Executive to be able to operate at the expected strategic level and re-engage the organisation with key delivery partners and networks.

Recommendation 2

By communicating the strategy and vision for the SPA, the CEO should set the strategic direction for the senior management team, which in turn will set it for the rest of the SPA Executive. With clear directions that everyone understands, the SPA Executive should put in place the necessary support processes for the Board, including effective and efficient working practices informed by best practice from exemplar organisations.

Recommendation 3

Senior management in Police Scotland with responsibility for assisting the SPA in discharging its statutory duties to ensure that the police and forensic service is maintained, resourced, and scrutinised effectively should report in respect of these responsibilities to the SPA CEO/Accountable Officer. These Police Scotland employees should have this reporting requirement reflected in their employment contracts, job objectives, and performance reviews, while continuing to report to the Chief Constable on all other matters.

Recommendation 4

The SPA Executive should develop (or refresh as the case may be) its guide/template for supporting papers for agenda items to be considered at SPA Board meetings. This should draw from best practice and experience of other organisations where available and detail the general principles which should inform the production/drafting of the papers and structure of the supporting papers.

Recommendation 5

The SPA Executive should develop jointly with Police Scotland and the Forensic Services new and refreshed induction programmes for Board Members, including an ongoing Learning and Development Programme ( e.g. CPD type activities) for Board Members, to take account of the dynamic nature of policing. This should include specific and targeted briefings on up-and-coming or live issues, as well as the opportunity to take stock of wider policy developments, such as "strategy days" and workshops.


  • The CEO is recognised and acknowledged as the adviser to the Board and the point of contact with the Forensic Services and Police Scotland;
  • The CEO provides assurance to the Board regarding accountabilities as the AO;
  • The SPA Executive Staff, through the leadership of the SPA Senior Management Team, will have the necessary autonomy and authority enabling them to support the CEO and Board in the delivery of their statutory duties;
  • There is a regular communication between the Chair and the CEO which is focused on developing the Board agenda and ensuring Board's expectations are clearly understood and delivered.

2B – Stakeholder Engagement

Terms of Reference

" 2. How are arrangements for engaging stakeholders in the work of the Authority can be strenthened"

Key Issue

66. The engagement and communication processes in place at the moment are not particularly effective or meaningful, especially when it comes to involving key delivery partners with which the SPA should have a highly collaborative relationship around shared agendas and outcomes. By and large, engagement activities by the SPA are patchy and not very well structured.

67. One of the recurrent issues that emerged from our soundings with stakeholders is the poor level of engagement with local government, and particularly elected members. There are invaluable insights that can be provided from local "police" conveners and the SPA Executive would benefit greatly from working more closely with local authorities in the support of their local scrutiny role and use this to inform its oversight of policing.


68. The issues in this area have manifested in different ways, which are in part operational in nature and often linked to inefficiencies with the SPA Executive business processes, which have not afforded delivery partners sufficient time to have sight of the proposed agenda items for Board meetings and comment on the Board papers.

69. Further, concerns with more day-to-day operational and administrative processes have resulted in both the CEO and Board Members' limited outward focus and inability to forge collaborative partnerships with key stakeholders to include insights into live and emerging issues. The operational focus of the leadership team has inadvertently acted as a barrier to their taking part fully in Scotland's civic life and keeping abreast of wider national or local issues.

70. It has also been observed that where arrangements for engaging with stakeholders are in place they are structured more akin to unilateral briefing sessions rather than a genuine collaborative platform for joint working with delivery partners and stakeholders.

71. Where meaningful and targeted engagement opportunities are provided by the SPA these have been much valued by stakeholders. The attendance of Board Members at Local Authorities' Police, Fire and Rescue Sub-Committees to observe the scrutiny of local plans as well as the availability of Board Members for discussion and/or provide updates from the SPA Board meetings on the strategic issues and direction of the SPA's work helped a great deal in making elected members feel engaged in a meaningful and constructive way. The Board should work with COSLA to establish coordinated working arrangements for engagement with Councils, which are proportionate and effective, but also manageable for Board members.

72. Despite the challenges with stakeholder engagement, the Independent Custody Visits have proved to be unique within the SPA set up and a clear success story for the SPA. In this area there is a good level and quality of engagement with stakeholder groups. For example, there is an established and comprehensive stakeholder and communication strategy already in place, which includes a variety of channels and platforms ( e.g. radio campaign, conferences, and events).

73. Through the Independent Custody Visits Scheme, the SPA reaches far and wide across a wide range of stakeholders, including diversity organisations, and rural and remote communities.

74. The experience with the Independent Custody Visits is evidence of the SPA's potential ability to engage and work effectively across a wide range of constituencies.

Our Assessment

75. It is our view that the SPA's current level and type of engagement, including the infrequency of opportunities for key stakeholders, have effectively denied the organisation the benefit of invaluable insights. This again has led to a concern that the Board may not be making informed decisions based on knowledge of the views of civic Scotland.

76. Our review of the evidence suggests that a strong focus on operational and internal matters meant that the SPA has been unable, so far, to develop more of an outwardly focussed approach and to reach out to both partner organisations and key stakeholders across the spectrum of Scotland's civic life. This had an impact on the SPA's ability to remain sighted, not only to live and emerging issues affecting Scotland as whole, but also local policing issues.

77. We believe that the current stakeholder arrangements need to be improved. The SPA could do more to engage strategically and proactively with key partners at various levels within the organisation, through more informal and formal channels, including networking opportunities and event planning.

78. Going forward, the role of the CEO will be key to the successful repositioning of the SPA in the policing and forensics landscape and more widely within Scotland's civic life by renewing existing relationships and forging new ones.

79. The ability of the Executive to support the Board by linking into existing networks and/or creating new networks or communities of interest will also be key to maintaining the SPA's ongoing engagement with Scotland's public life.

80. This approach will also support and empower the whole of the Executive staff, ranging from senior management to operational roles, by enabling them to engage more confidently with their counter parts in partner organisations and re-establishing more effective and balanced working relationships.


Recommendation 6

SPA to refresh its stakeholder engagement and communication strategy with the aim of reaching out, not only to delivery partners, but also a wider section of Scottish civic life and the public at large. This is to include a mapping exercise of key delivery partners and stakeholders.

Recommendation 7

SPA to refresh and re-establish channels of communications at senior and strategic level with other key organisations, and especially local authorities, Police Scotland, and staff associations and unions.

Recommendation 8

SPA to formalise and publicise a programme of engagement opportunities through an engagement planner to feature on its website. This should include harmonising and coordinating stakeholder contact events with other key delivery partners, such as local authorities and Police Scotland, and seeking to harness synergies by sharing platforms and engagement opportunities made available by other partners.

Recommendation 9

SPA to ensure that Committees have routes into engagement and communication channels so that as Board papers are developed, the voice of the stakeholder is heard and considered prior to Board decisions being made.

Recommendation 10

SPA to consider in discussion with key delivery partners the need to reconvene the Joint Liaison Committees, comprising SPA, Police Scotland, and staff associations, as well as the setting up of a Local Government Liaison Group consisting of SPA Board Members and members of COSLA's Political Management Team, indicatively meeting twice a year. This approach will provide a forum for strategic engagement on Scotland-wide strategic policing issues.


  • The Board will be publicly recognised and acknowledged as discharging its statutory functions by proactive engagement strategies, developed by the SPA Chair and CEO, that leverages network and stakeholder resources to access wider insights and knowledge.
  • Critical stakeholders and partners will understand and have clarity on processes for providing insight and information to enable the Board to make informed decisions.

2C – Staffing and Operating Structure

Terms of Reference

" 3. Staffing and operating structure that fulfils the aim of providing the most effective support to the Board"

Key Issue

81. Our findings have highlighted that even though it is now four years since the SPA's inception, there is still a need for clarity about the role of the SPA. This has had a knock-on effect on the SPA's business structures as well as the roles and responsibilities of each individual member of staff.

82. The purpose and role that the SPA is statutorily required to fulfil has not bedded down to the extent or within the timescales expected, and this has impacted on the sense of purpose and subsequently effectiveness of the SPA Executive to effectively support the SPA leadership team and the Board.

83. Another issue which has come to our attention during the Review is that a key driver for the work plan and activities of the various teams and units within the Executive has often been the informal affiliation to one or more of the Board Committees ( e.g. People Committee, Audit Committee etc.). Affiliation to committees provides focus and purpose for the activities of the Executive and also affords a degree of support and leadership through the Chairs of the various committees. This has effectively resulted in a broad alignment of the skill sets and experience of staff within those of the Committees. This approach to affiliation is, however, patchy and/or not overtly recognised, which has led to the Executive's collective and corporate inability to target their efforts and resources on the relevant key issues and priorities.


84. The SPA Executive staffing complement comprises of a mix of staff, ranging from managerial to operational, as well as specialist grades. There is currently provision for the Executive to employ 41 staff, although currently only 31 staff are in post, with this figure including roles which are being covered with time limited inward secondments from other organisations.

85. The SPA Executive staffing complement comprises, in part, of staff formerly employed by the legacy services ( e.g. former local police services, local authorities etc.), as well as newly recruited staff who took up employment at the time the SPA was created. A number of experienced staff did not transfer to the SPA and that may have contributed to an imbalance of skill sets and experience within the newly formed SPA. Furthermore, due to a combination of factors including budgetary constraints and several reviews and audits, the original staffing complement and structure envisaged for the SPA has never fully been realised.

86. Whilst the SPA Executive has at its disposal a range of experience and skills, including professional and specialist roles, there is evidence that this capacity and capbility is not always used or led effectively.

87. In order for the SPA to discharge its statutory responsibilities effectively, the SPA senior leadership team, including the CEO, the Chair, and Board Members, needs to be operating at a sufficiently strategic level with a primary focus on developing and scrutinising the execution of Police Scotland's long-term strategy. Our review of the evidence indicates that the SPA leadership team is not always able to act at the required strategic level and share that strategic vision with internal and external stakeholders, as well as the SPA Executive staff.

88. There is a clear indication emerging from our findings that the SPA Executive needs to be equipped with the necessary skills and experience to enable the SPA leadership team, and the Board, to review critically the information provided by Police Scotland, to raise pertinent issues and commission intelligence in a proportionate and cost-effective way. Responses from interviewees were also consistent in ruling out the need to replicate Police Scotland's structures within the SPA.

89. The Review also found that, by and large, there is a broad consensus around the need to bolster the capacity and capabilities of the SPA Executive and refresh its skills base to ensure that the SPA is fit to undertake its statutory purposes. However, it has to be noted that some interviewees indicated that this approach will only go some way to address the challenges the SPA is facing and a point was made about the need to look at the SPA's overall statutory position in the light of the significant change to policing structures and governance since 2013.

Our Assessment

90. It is our view that the SPA Executive should be sufficiently empowered and granted the required level of autonomy, as well as authority to oversee and manage all day-to-day operational and administrative process. This will require a restructure and re-evaluation of roles and responsibilities, including the business-critical role of the CEO. This will result in an increased capacity within the SPA leadership team and the Board enabling them to operate at the required strategic level.

91. In order to enable the SPA to reposition itself within the policing landscape and re-engage with key stakeholders as a trusted partner, the CEO needs to be afforded the necessary scope and flexibility to act at a sufficiently strategic level with an enhanced outward focus. It is therefore essential that if the CEO continues to have the additional accountabilities of AO there is adequate and specific support available to ensure this does not detract from their primary accountabilities as CEO. This approach will be key, at least during the transitional period, leading to the SPA re-focussing, and until a new permanent CEO is identified, to lead the SPA into the next phase.

92. Going forward, the SPA Executive's ability to undertake some form of horizon scanning of key and emerging issues will be key to ensuring that the SPA leadership team is properly informed. In addition, it is essential that the SPA Executive has the ability to seek informed views from stakeholders and partners. A combination of both of these activities will ensure that sufficient information is provided to the Board to enable it to form sound judgments and take appropriate decisions. In order to deliver this approach, a mixed skills base would need to be put in place where rounder policy-making and administrative skills would need to sit alongside more specialist and professional skills.

93. It is recognised that the SPA leadership team has attempted to secure wider experience and skills sets, including technical skills, through a number of inward secondments from partner organisations. This has indeed proven a successful resourcing strategy for acquiring new skills, learning best practice from elsewhere and promoting cross-fertilisation of ideas. On the other hand, the Review found that the time limited and transient nature of these appointments has had a few unintended consequences, including an impact on the development and sense of purpose of the core staff of the SPA Executive.

94. With the move to a single service, and following the restructuring of the legacy organisations, a decision was made for corporate services, including HR, ICT, Procurement, and Finance to reside within Police Scotland rather than the SPA. It is recognised that there are sound practical and operational considerations supporting this particular structure as Police Scotland has the operational responsibility on the ground for the vast majority of expenditure, and it has also under its command and control the vast majority of employees and should rightly be accountable for the use of these resources. However, the current approach does not afford the required flow of information between Police Scotland and the SPA to enable the latter to exercise its scrutiny and assurance functions, and to ensure the necessary stewardship of the resources for which it holds statutory responsibilities.

95. There is indeed an appreciation that police reform, the move to a single police service, and the ensuing organisational restructuring has seen an unprecedented level of change. Since inception, the SPA has also been subjected to a high degree of public scrutiny and impacted by other review processes, including the 2015 Review of Governance in Policing by Andrew Flanagan [20] and the initial phase of HMICS' thematic inspection of the SPA. [21]

96. Against this background, the Review will provide an additional opportunity to restate the value of the role of the SPA through an organisational refresh and refocusing. This will allow the SPA to do what it was set up to do with reaffirmed clarity and credibility.


Recommendation 11

To ensure that the SPA CEO/ AO combined role has sufficient support to enable the primary role of the CEO, to advise and support the Board and manage strategic relationships with key stakeholders to include Police Scotland, Forensic Services, and local authorities, to be discharged and not unduly detracted from by performance of the AO function. The AO's primary role is clearly defined in The Public Finance and Accountability (Scotland) Act 2000 ( PFA Act), and should be primarily in relation to SPA finance. The CEO will require appropriate professional support to discharge the AO function without detriment to the CEO role detailed above.

Recommendation 12

The SPA Executive should have 3 main units:

  • CEO/ AO Support;
  • Board Communications & Insights;
  • Board Services.

Recommendation 13

On an indicative basis, it is recommended that the proposed business areas have the following key features:

  • Redefine the role of the CEO/ AO as a priority;
  • CEO/ AO Support – Within the SPA CEO/ AO's office, there should be the required experience and skills set to support discharge of the role and the responsibilities associated with the SPA being the employer of staff, and duties associated with Police Scotland's Senior Officers, including appointments and pay, complaints handling, and independent custody visits. The skills set required to support this approach, and the bolstering of the capacity and capabilities available to the SPA leadership team, should feature highly developed management skills, strategic thinking, and strong judgment. This area should also include, amongst other things, more specialist and professional skills such as legal advice and HR. In addition, it is assumed that the CEO/ AO themselves will have strong financial and business knowledge;
  • Engagement and communication, including insights – Key deliverables of this team should include: provision of information and intelligence to ensure that the SPA can consider properly researched information and high-quality reports in order to make informed decisions; development and review of strategy; produce SPA Annual Reports; partner with Police Scotland and Forensics Services to agree performance indicators and targets; oversee stakeholder engagement of the SPA (including Parliamentary committees); produce briefing papers; and manage the website and all internal and external communications. To deliver this approach, there needs to be research capacity and capabilities within the Executive to construct concise reports and/or have access to analytical resources including a horizon scanning and anticipatory function as appropriate. There should also be strong media, including social media and communication skills;
  • Board Services Unit – This Team should provide high: quality secretariat and coordination services to the Board ensuring the availability of high quality Board papers; support the CEO and Chair in agreeing the Board agendas; support Committees Chairs in the development of efficient and effective work plans; and provide secretarial support to Committees, the Board and its Members.


  • The SPA Executive will have a staff structure with the right skills mix and experience resulting in an engaged workforce;
  • The SPA Board will be recognised and acknowledged as providing effective scrutiny of Police Scotland and holding the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of policing in Scotland;
  • The CEO will have the capacity and support from the SPA Board and Executive, Police Scotland, and other stakeholders, to discharge the key elements of their role and function;
  • There will be appropriate arrangements within the SPA to enable the CEO to discharge the AO function, without detriment to their principal role.

2D – Ways of Working

Terms of Reference

" 4. areas where processes could be improved"

Key Issue

97. One of the recurrent issues which has been raised by a number of interviewees are the difficulties experienced by SPA Board Members caused by the very late circulation and frequent poor quality of papers for Board meetings. These have resulted in SPA Board Members not having sufficient time to consider important business items and being afforded very limited opportunities to seek additional information.

98. These operational issues have also had a consequential effect on the ability of local elected members to consider papers and raise any issues with SPA Board Members where local impacts are a concern. There are currently no effective mechanisms for the SPA Board to take into account the valuable input, which can be provided by the local police scrutiny conveners.

99. The issue of lateness of the submission of papers, raised by Board members, has also been compounded by the poor quality and accessibility of some key Board papers. It has often been remarked during our soundings with key stakeholders that the papers for the Board meetings are lengthy and unwieldy documents and are not appropriately tailored for strategic consideration by SPA Board Members.


100. Our findings suggest that the SPA Executive does not currently have the required capacity and capabilities to support all the functionalities of the SPA and its Board, and where these are available they are not utilised or maximised to their full potential or deployed appropriately.

101. Our review of the evidence also indicates that not only are there challenges with the operational processes of the SPA Executive and their ability to support the Board in taking informed and transparent decisions, but the same considerations also apply to Police Scotland. The SPA Executive needs to be appropriately supported by Police Scotland with quality and timely papers that are targeted and contain focussed information so that the SPA Board can properly scrutinise and hold Police Scotland to account.

Our Assessment

102. The SPA's Board meetings should provide a space to discuss collectively and work through issues, gaps, and problems at a strategic level. Supporting papers for the Board should therefore be concise so that the key points are clearly outlined and are available to issue to Board Members, within reasonable and meaningful timescales, to allow for proper consideration, ideally two weeks prior to a meeting. The papers should be able to present questions, challenges, views from partners and/or stakeholders, or pinpoint to specific areas for discussion by the SPA Board as the SPA Board is not about "rubber –stamping" papers.

103. Police Scotland needs to be able to offer the SPA Board more balanced and critical views of its plans and activities. There needs to be a sufficient level of trust in the information Police Scotland and the Forensic Services provides the SPA Board. It is acknowledged that the SPA has made inroads with Police Scotland on improving delivery of quality papers but there is still further work to be done. The appointment of Police Scotland's first Director of Corporate Services, Strategy and Change has begun the process of transformational change across Police Scotland and its corporate functions, which also support the SPA.

104. Police Scotland now has corporate functions with the required skills to provide quality information, which should be trusted. It is now the opportunity for both Police Scotland and the SPA to obtain a better appreciation of their respective corporate and business processes with a view to establishing fit for purpose Board and Committee papers to time and quality.

105. It is important that Police Scotland continues to progress the change and renewal journey brought in by new leadership, skills, and insights. It is expected that this approach will help the further development of a culture of accountability and scrutiny and ensure they are further mainstreamed and embedded more widely at all levels within the organisation.

106. Consideration now needs to be given to how Police Scotland's corporate functions can provide equivalent support to the Forensic Services as they now report directly to the Board. It is our view that a single corporate function is still the right model.

107. Although it is noted that the scrutiny and accountability of policing is an improved and improving picture, it is key that the SPA Board has processes in place to access independent and specialist advice as and when required. The SPA Executive should be able to support the Board with the decoding and interrogating of information of papers from Police Scotland or to access the required advice and expertise out with the Executive where this is not available in-house. This approach should be proportionate and cost-effective with no need for duplication of structures and processes.


Recommendation 14

SPA to hold, jointly with Police Scotland, a facilitated staff event/workshop with the aim to identifying challenges and opportunities in their respective business processes and working practices.

Recommendation 15

SPA to review its business processes and working practices, and working jointly with Police Scotland, develop collaboratively effective and efficient end to end processes, as well as identifying business solutions, which will enable the SPA to fulfil its scrutiny role and hold Police Scotland to account as required. These processes and practices should be agreed formally, within a Minute of Agreement or equivalent, so that there can be clarity between the SPA and Police Scotland as to requirements and expectations, and to complement the formal accountability of Police Scotland employees noted in Recommendation 3.

Recommendation 16

SPA to identify and apply best practice in its business processes and working practices, drawing from other exemplar organisations with a national dimension and public remit, to ensure that the place of the SPA within civic Scotland is restored and secured.

Recommendation 17

SPA to develop and articulate in a transparent and open way its policy about public Board papers and/or meetings, supported by robust administrative processes, reflecting practice elsewhere in the public sector. With the exception of sensitive and personnel matters, it should be a matter of principle that meetings concerning policing policy and progress towards national outcomes should be held in public.


  • Board and Committee papers will be concise and contain required information to enable an informed decision to be made, in public wherever possible.
  • The Board and Committees will have access to a broader set of information to enable critical evaluation of proposals from Police Scotland and Forensic Services, ensuring their decisions are informed and evidence based.