SPA warns that Police Scotland may not be able to meet its long-term strategic objectives
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has revealed that Police Scotland is running a deficit of £34 million, less than in the previous year, but that the force still faces “considerable challenges ahead”.
It added that the delivery of the force’s objectives and “the ability to achieve financial balance in the long term depends on the successful delivery of a wide range of complex transformation projects”.
The figures and conclusions are revealed in the 2017/18 audit of the Scottish Police Authority report published on Tuesday (November 20) by Audit Scotland.
A recommendation is also made for the development of “strong financial planning that must be underpinned and informed by other corporate strategies for workforce, estates and ICT” and a failure to do so will “constrain the Scottish Police Authority’s ability to achieve long-term financial sustainability”.
The report goes on to state that much of the development and transformation will be supplied by the SPA board-approved Data, Digital and ICT Strategy, but highlights that “the scale, cost and complexity of implementing this strategy should not be underestimated and a funding package to meet the estimated budget of £298 million over the next five years has not yet been agreed”.
It also shows that Phil Gormley, who resigned as Chief Constable in February this year, received payments on his departure of £54,137 in lieu of notice and £28,227 for annual leave he had not taken.
Additionally, the amount of money spent on consultancy fees was more than double the previous year, rising from £1.9 million in 2016/17 to £4.3 million.
The report stresses that “policing in Scotland is going through a period of considerable change as it moves towards implementing its Policing 2026 vision” and that an improved performance management system is required to reach that goal.
Susan Deacon, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said: “A huge amount of work has gone in to improving the financial and organisational performance of the Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland, and that work continues.
“This year’s annual report and accounts, and Audit Scotland’s independent report, demonstrate that substantive improvements have been made.
“I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge which the Authority and Police Scotland still face, and both organisations are continuing to work through major programmes of transformation and change, not least to respond to increased demand and changing circumstances within the context of continuing pressures on the public purse.
“I am confident, however, that we are now putting in place the people and the practices needed to build a police service which is fit for purpose, fit for the future and which commands high levels of public confidence and trust.
“I am determined to ensure that we work tirelessly to drive continuous improvement and so ensure that the people of Scotland receive the very highest possible standards of policing within available resource and that the governance and oversight of this service is robust and effective.”