Policing Sub-Committee convener to join panel to select new SPA chair, Justice Secretary confirms

Written by Jenni Davidson on 22 September 2017 in News

Justice Sub-Committee on Policing convener Mary Fee is to join the selection panel representing the Scottish Parliament

Scottish Parliament windows - Image credit: Holyrood

Labour MSP Mary Fee is to join the selection panel for the new chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The Justice Sub-Committee on Policing convener will represent MSPs on the panel to find a replacement current chair Andrew Flanagan.

Flanagan resigned in June following criticism from members of the Scottish Parliament’s justice and public audit committees as well as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson promised in a statement earlier this month to look into giving MSPs a role in the next appointment after opposition parties had called for Parliament rather than the Scottish Government to make the appointment.

However, the SPA is a regulated post and the appointment has to be made by Scottish ministers.


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Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The role of SPA chair is to work with Police Scotland and the communities it serves to contribute to making Scotland safer and stronger.

“Having committed to considering how the Parliament could have an enhanced role in this appointment, within the established statutory process, I have invited Mary Fee MSP, in her capacity of convener to the Justice Sub-Committee, to join the panel for the upcoming shortlisting and interviews.

“I am very pleased to say that Ms Fee has accepted my invitation and that the process for appointing a new chair is progressing well.”

Scottish Labour’s Justice spokesperson Claire Baker MSP welcomed the move.

She said: “The SPA has been dogged with controversy, with both the chair and the chief executive exiting in recent months.

“It is essential parliament has a role in the selection of the new chair if the public is to retain any confidence in the police authority.

“That is why it is welcome SNP justice minister Michael Matheson has agreed to put the Convener of the Justice sub-committee on Policing on the selection panel.

“This is an important step towards increasing transparency and confidence in the SPA.

“We now need legislative change to ensure proper parliamentary scrutiny is the norm – not the exception.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats justice spokesperson Liam McArthur also welcomed the announcement, but called on the Scottish Government to commit to further reform.

McArthur said: "While this move is a step in the right direction, the Justice Secretary must also now commit to meaningful longer term reforms that will build in more democratic accountability in future.

"Given the controversy surrounding the SPA since its establishment, and particularly over recent months, it is important that ways are found to allow an enhanced role for Parliament and local authorities in oversight going forward.

“This may well require legislative change, but the sooner that process is initiated the better.

“For now, I welcome the decision to invite the convener of the Sub Committee on Policing to participate in the recruitment of Andrew Flanagan's successor."

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