The Chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Andrew Flanagan, has today announced immediate action to address weaknesses in financial processes and controls identified in the audit of the 2014-15 SPA accounts (which are published today).
While the final published accounts have been assessed as a true account by the financial watchdog Audit Scotland, their accompanying audit report identified significant problems with the accounting of key financial information during the year, in particular fixed assets such as property.
SPA will now appoint a chief financial officer for an interim period to oversee the financial management of both the SPA and Police Scotland.
Speaking in response to the publication of the 2014-15 SPA annual report and accounts, and issues relating to the accounts reported to the Scottish Parliament by the Auditor General, new SPA Chair Andrew Flanagan said:
“SPA’s annual report and accounts for 2014-15 demonstrates continued progress in the reform of policing and the delivery of further significant financial savings and efficiencies. The final accounts have also received an unqualified opinion from the appointed auditor which is welcome.
“However, we fully acknowledge the recommendations in the accompanying audit report that significant improvements are required in financial processes and controls within policing. Audit Scotland has described the issues identified in the audit as exceptional. I agree and the SPA board has today taken immediate action to address them.
“The SPA will move quickly to appoint a chief financial officer for an interim period to oversee the financial management of both SPA and Police Scotland. I expect that individual to begin work in January and for a minimum of four months. The post will report directly into the SPA chief executive, as the accountable officer for police finances.
“The immediate objectives are to get our financial house in order to avoid a further critical audit report, to grip cost saving initiatives and minimise forecast overspend within the current financial year, prepare a policing budget for 2016-17 within the available resources announced this week by the Scottish Government, and prepare a financial strategy that will provide policing with a sound basis on which to evolve a broader policing strategy for Scotland.
“This decisive and immediate action, complemented by an enhanced focus on financial controls within the SPA’s internal audit work, is necessary to address the serious and pressing financial issues identified. I will give further consideration to financial accountability within my overall police governance review, which will report in March.”
Commenting on the 2014-15 SPA annual report and accounts, SPA Chief Executive John Foley added:
“There has been a small variance in the final financial position for 2014-15 from the management accounting estimates reported earlier in the calendar year. This equates to less than 1 per cent of the total SPA budget managed, is within expectations on cash budgeting agreed with the Scottish Government, and reflects balance sheet changes to depreciation and revaluation of property carried out after the end of the financial year.”
The SPA annual report and accounts for 2014-15 have been laid in the Scottish Parliament today and a copy can be accessed from the SPA website at: