SPA response to Options for Scotland

Published

SPA statement re Options for Scotland recommendations

Think tank, Options for Scotland, issued a statement on 19 August to split Police Scotland into four regional forces.
The SPA's response in relation to the wider points raised in the report is:

“The reform of policing from a multi-force structure to a national service has always been more than just a merger of nine organisations into one.  It is a long-term process of change and realising all the benefits of operating as a single national service will take time but important progress has already been made.

“Postcode lotteries of approach in areas like domestic abuse and child exploitation have been addressed. Police resources are being deployed to meet needs and demands without the bureaucracy of mutual aid arrangements. Communities across Scotland are benefiting from access to specialist assets like air support and mounted police that were previously only available in the central belt. Technology and systems that used to stop working at force boundaries are talking to one another. 

"There is evidence that many key areas of policing in Scotland are stronger today than they were under the previous multi-force system, and that has been done alongside successful efforts to end duplication and necessary work to reduce the costs of policing. However, we also acknowledge there have been issues and difficulties, and that there is more of that journey of reform ahead of policing than behind it.”

And, in relation to the specific recommendation to abolish the SPA:

“The SPA has a key role in the oversight of policing in Scotland and in holding policing to account. However, Parliament established the SPA with a wider range of duties and responsibilities than that of a watchdog.

"Those responsibilities extend to strategy, performance, financial accountability, and a range of statutory obligations. For instance, the SPA has responsibility for the delivery of forensic services, an approach that ensures that forensic science has an appropriate degree of independence from the investigation of crimes. The SPA chief executive is also the accountable officer for all the funding allocated to policing. As a corporate body, the SPA has significant legal obligations as the employer of all staff and substantial responsibilities to maintain policing property and resources. We also fulfill a key statutory duty around the wellbeing of detainees by maintaining and supporting an independent custody visiting scheme. 

“We are committed to an ongoing programme of improvement to strengthen national governance arrangements while also keeping a close eye on value for money. The operating costs of SPA governance work are kept within 0.5 per cent of the overall budget allocated to policing. In line with the rest of policing, SPA is also working to deliver its own efficiency savings of £600,000 this financial year.”