‘Significant weaknesses’ in SPA’s finances

The Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) financial controls contain “significant weaknesses”, according to an internal audit.

Jul 25, 2017

The Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) financial controls contain “significant weaknesses”, according to an internal audit. A report presented to the SPA on Tuesday (July 25) found there are still major underlying problems with the organisation’s corporate internal processes. The audit, conducted by Scott-Moncrieff accountants, highlighted 137 areas in need of action with the most pressing issues relating to controls over payroll systems. It added that the large number of transformation projects in place has heaped pressure on staff trying to complete day-to-day tasks. However, auditors recognised that the SPA and Police Scotland are aware of these failings and have taken steps to address them such as opening recruitment. The report said: “In our opinion SPA had significant weaknesses in its framework of internal controls in place during the 2016/17 financial year. “As a result, the internal control environment operated by SPA during 2016/17 cannot be fully relied upon to provide an appropriate level of assurance regarding the effective and efficient achievement of objectives and the management of key risks.” One of the 137 actions was classed as ‘priority 5’ – the most serious grade – and related to the payroll system in place in Glasgow. Previous inspections have found Police Scotland still has multiple payroll systems in place years after it was formed by combining legacy forces. Other actions identified as far back as 2014 are still to be implemented. The report also identified a need to invest in financial skills, resources and policies. The SPA acknowledged the report’s findings and said work is ongoing to address the issues raised. A spokesperson said: “We have been working with Police Scotland on a programme of transformational activity in terms of financial controls which has already seen a number of actions completed and many more progressing. “The whole purpose of internal audit is to identify the actions required to improve the effectiveness of internal control systems. “SPA has made this a key part of its improvement agenda in policing, and is supported in that by the professional input of Scott-Moncrieff, one of Scotland’s leading professional advisory firms in this area.”

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