Glasgow & West Scotland

More criticism of Strathclyde Police Authority from watchdogs

Strathclyde Police
Image caption The report said that overall Strathclyde Police was "performing well"

Councillors who oversee Scotland's largest police force have been criticised by watchdogs for making slow progress on implementing changes.

The Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland and Accounts Commission raised concerns about Strathclyde Police Authority over a year ago.

They said it must do more to scrutinise and hold the force to account.

The latest review said they were "disappointed with progress" which was described as being "slow".

Strathclyde Police Authority is made up of councillors from the Strathclyde Police force area.

'Poorly attended'

The latest report said it had missed an opportunity to become more actively involved in setting the vision for policing.

It said the force had invited authority members to workshops, part of its strategic planning process for 2012-12, but these were "poorly attended".

Only three members took part in the first workshop in December last year and just one member attended the January workshop.

"This was a missed opportunity for the authority to become actively involved in setting the vision and strategic direction for policing in Strathclyde," the report states.

In July last year, a joint best-value audit, published by the Accounts Commission and the inspectorate, said that the authority needs to "strengthen its arrangements for oversight of Strathclyde Police".

Members need better support and training to "develop their understanding, build their skills and gain greater confidence in holding the chief constable to account".

The follow-up report said that while the commission was "disappointed with progress since the first report", it was encouraged by the authority's new convener, councillor Philip Braat, who took on the post after last May's council elections.

While the authority "can demonstrate improvement" in some areas, "the overall pace of change has been slow".

The report adds: "There remains an absence of genuine joint decision-making between the authority and the force, and the authority has had little involvement in shaping future policing priorities.

"The authority has not significantly strengthened its strategic oversight and challenge of the force's approach to partnership working."

Nationwide force

The chief executive of Strathclyde Police Authority is preparing, together with an officer from Strathclyde Police, a consolidated improvement plan.

Mr Braat will be meeting the chief constable to discuss how the authority and force can work more effectively together.

The report also said that a new approach to training authority members is being implemented and that, since last year, the authority had "strengthened its scrutiny of the force's performance" and had "closely monitored finance, staffing and asset management arrangements".

A new nationwide police force is due to be up and running by next April, meaning Strathclyde Police Authority will only remain in place for the next few months.

But the report said: "It is crucial that business as usual is maintained over this period and the improvement agenda continues to be progressed."

Mr Braat said: "Many improvements were made to the scrutiny and monitoring functions of the authority following the previous best value report in 2011.

"However, we fully acknowledge the findings of the latest best value report and we have been working hard to address its conclusions.

'Improvement plan'

"A new improvement plan is now in place and we are committed to delivering upon this plan in the remaining seven months of Strathclyde Police Authority.

"We accept that more work needs to be done to meet all of the recommendations contained within the report and we will remain fully focused on the job at hand at a time of fundamental change to policing in Scotland."

Accounts Commission chair John Baillie said: "We welcome the new convener's commitment to addressing the underlying issues."

The improvement plan "needs to be implemented fully and within the timescale set out", he said.

"It is essential that the authority's chief executive and his team provide effective support to the convener and councillors in addressing the continuing business of the authority, the improvement plan and the work involved in the introduction of the national police force.

"The commission will continue to monitor progress in the months ahead."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites