Audit Scotland says arrangements for new single police force must improve
Audit Scotland found elected members of local police boards do not have an adequate understanding of their roles or have been active enough in setting priorities and targets.
The ‘Best Value in police authorities and police forces in Scotland’ report flags up the “key issues” confronting the new force, which goes live on April 1 next year.
Among those it recommends that members receive “appropriate training”, receive support and there needs to be clarity over their roles and of local police commanders.
The report also states it is “vital” that the accountability arrangements are clearly articulated and that roles and responsibilities are understood and agreed.
It said: “Police authority members have not carried out their roles and responsibilities to full effect. They would have benefited from better support and development to improve their confidence and capacity to lead and scrutinise police activity.” The report added: “Although governance structures are appropriate in the main, we found the effectiveness of elected member leadership and scrutiny to be poor. In many cases members have tended to take a largely passive role, for example by approving budgets rather than being involved in their early development and by responding to force reports rather than actively identifying what they want reports on.” The report found that police forces themselves were generally playing an “effective” role in community planning and work well with partners to “deliver local outcomes”.
It praised also the way police forces use equality impact assessments to address equality issues and have been improving the way they manage performance.
In terms of crime it noted rates were lower than those in England and Wales but violent crime per head of the population in Scotland was higher.
It also warned that the 12 per cent reduction of full-time equivalent police staff in the last three years has given rise to officers performing extra administrative duties.
The report said: “There are some indications that police staff posts are being covered by police officers in the short term, but at a time of continued financial pressures there is a risk that this is not an efficient and sustainable use of resources if adopted longer term.”