Policing Board 'lacks direction' and long term vision

By Vincent Kearney
BBC NI home affairs correspondent


The BBC has learned that an independent review of the Policing Board has found that the organisation is "lacking direction" and fails to deliver value for money.

The board commissioned the review in February this year.

The BBC has seen a copy which states that "there is no existing long term strategy" and there is "no value for money culture".

The findings are due to be discussed in a private session on Thursday.

There are some positive words, with the author acknowledging that the board has dealt with some difficult policing issues since it was established in 2001.

It also states that the board has "a good record of success in complex political and social circumstances."

But the positive comments are far outweighed by words of criticism. The review speaks of strategic drift, insufficient focus on efficiency, and a culture that is slow to seek out or embrace opportunities for organisational change.

In recent years, it said there had been a growing lack of focus and attention on providing meaningful strategic leadership, and that "there is no existing long term strategy."

The decision making process of the board and its committees is described as "slow, bureaucratic and not outcome focused", which the review says has resulted in frustration amongst members and some senior police officers.

Dealing with the senior management team, the report said there was "little evidence of teamwork" and that the way it operates has resulted in "a lack of corporate responsibility, common vision, ambition, and barriers to organisational progress."

Some of the strongest criticism concerns the board's finances. With an annual budget of £9m, the review said "value for money as a concept is not understood or practiced to any notable and evidenced extent." It said there was "no value for money culture".

It recommends that the board puts in place a leadership group to steer, drive and oversee its strategic development.

In a statement on Wednesday, the board said it commissioned the review as part of a commitment to continuous improvement.

"The Board recognised that after nearly 10 years of operation there was a need to look at how it operated and the purpose of the review was to examine how the Board's role and work could be developed and improved in the future," a spokesperson said.

The statement added that work has already started on suggested areas for improvement.

The consultant who wrote the report will present his findings, and answer questions from board members, at a private meeting in Policing Board headquarters on Thursday.

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