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Scottish Police Authority audit quality panned

THE quality of record keeping at the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has been slammed by the Auditor General for Scotland, Caroline Gardner, in a special report sent to the Scottish Parliament.

Gardener criticised the unqualified 2013/14 accounts and drew specific attention to the poor quality of several aspects of the SPA’s accounting records, and access to information and explanations.

The body dubbed its conclusion as “unusual”, highlighting the pressing need for the SPA and Police Scotland to “make significant progress in improving their accounting records”.

The report also acknowledged that merging eight predecessor forces’ finance functions with the Scottish Police Services Authority and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency was “a considerable challenge”, at a time when large numbers of finance staff were taking voluntary redundancy or early retirement

It said the SPA had made progress or completed most of the recommendations made in Police Reform, published by Audit Scotland in November 2013.

Delays in the development of a sustainable financial plan for Scottish policing over the next ten years were caused by “past uncertainties over the future finance functions of the SPA and Police Scotland, and its impact on permanent recruitment of senior finance staff”, the report concluded.

The plan is essential if identified savings of £1.1bn identified are to be successfully implemented.

The Auditor General made a specific request that the 2014/15 audit assesses progress in improving accounting records in SPA and Police Scotland, and keeps a close eye on the development of a long-term financial strategy.

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