Spotlight turned on local police force’s last-gasp audit

An investigation into Central Scotland Police will go ahead
An investigation into Central Scotland Police will go ahead
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An in-depth review of Central Scotland Police could prove to be an expensive waste of time and money, it was claimed.

As part of a national three-year programme, the force and the area’s joint police board will be put under the spotlight in coming weeks by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland and Audit Scotland.

The investigation will look at how the force is performing and ensure that members of the joint police board oversee this performance and get the information they need to make the best use of resources. The auditors will also scrutinise whether the board is holding the Chief Constable to account for the quality of services and the management of these public resources.

However, the need for such a review was questioned when a complete overhaul of the police service in Scotland is under way and a national police force should be in place as early as April next year to replace the current eight forces.

Councillor Tom Coleman described it as “beyond pointless” when the Central Scotland force could cease to exist within 14 months.

He said: “The overall report is due to come back to the board in May/June. Yet we will have local government elections in May, are undergoing national reform and there will be no board in a year’s time.

“Would it not be a more pragmatic idea to go with the information you already have, which would save costs and time? As it stands, this review will involve disruption to the force and is not going to contribute to what is going to happen in 2013.

“You talk about plans for going forward, but this board will have no plans once it has fulfilled its duty. It is very Kafkaesque – procedure for procedure’s sake.”

Andrew Laing, HM Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, said he recognised the points made but said the improvement plan that would be drawn up would be a “gift” to the incoming board following the elections

He said: “It will clarify areas to focus on in the future. Also, I have a responsibility to present to Parliament assurances of the effectiveness of police forces.

“There should not be a period of stagnation but a message of business as usual for our police services and our local communities. We need to maintain the level of services against complex challenges of reform and financial restraint.”

Chief Constable Derek Penman gave the board an assurance that would be the case. He said: “We are committed to continuous improvement and need to build on the trust and confidence in our local communities.”