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Audit and Accountability Meeting Minutes - 1 February 2023

27 Apr 2023


Chair – Welcome and Apologies
Declaration of Interests – review & update
Minutes and actions arising from previous meeting


Audit & Accountability Committee 

Catherine Dyer (Chair) 
Elizabeth Humphreys (LH) (attending via MS Teams) 
John McCroskie (JMcC) (attending via MS Teams) 
Lena Collins (LC) 
Michelle Wailes (MW) 
Robert Scott (RS) 


Michelle Macleod     Commissioner (MML) 
Phil Chapman          Director of Operations (PC) 
Sharon Smit            Accountable Officer / Head of Corporate Services (SS) 
Jennifer Fisher         Secretariat (JLF) 


Philip Church, RSM (PC2) (attending via MS Teams from 1300 – 1500 hours) 
Mark Laird, Audit Scotland (ML) (attending via MS Teams) 

Welcome and apologies 

The Chair welcomed ML to his first PIRC Audit and Accountability Committee meeting and introductions were made. 

No apologies were noted. 

Declaration of Interests – review and update 

The Chair notified members of some recent media interest in relation to the Charity Commission commencing a regulatory compliance case examining concerns raised with them about the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, of which the Chair is a Trustee and Director. The concerns involve matters relating to safeguarding and wider governance issues and the Diocese had also invited an external regulatory audit of safeguarding cases. Members thanked the Chair for bringing this to the committee’s attention and agreed that there was no conflict of interest. 

Minutes and actions arising from previous meeting 

The minutes of the October 2022 meeting were approved. 

Internal Audit – RSM 

In addition to the two Progress Reports (circulated in advance), PC2, of RSM UK Risk Assurance Services, provided members with the following update: 

Progress against the 2022/23 internal audit plan (as agreed by the Committee on 25 April 2022): 100% complete. 
One report has been finalised and issued since the previous Committee meeting (October 2022): Follow Up of Previous Internal Audit Management Actions. 
A total of 18 management actions were identified in this audit: 13 ‘Low’, 4 ‘Medium’ and 1 ‘High’ priority action. 
10 actions have been fully implemented and 5 actions have been superseded. 
1 ‘Low’ priority action has not been implemented. 
2 actions (1 ‘High’ and 1 ‘Medium’) remain ongoing. 
Taking account of the issues identified within the reports, it was noted that PIRC have demonstrated reasonable progress in implementing agreed management actions. 
A full opinion will be provided at the April 2023 Committee. 
JMcC queried what work PIRC had undertaken to address the action in relation to Cyber Security Training (IT Health check, Action 2). SS advised that although the audit action was complete, work in respect of this action was ongoing. SS further noted that the initial response has seen the introduction of mandatory Cyber Security Awareness training for all staff. 

SS further advised that this was ‘basic’ cyber awareness training and that it would be complemented by additional training that would be provided throughout the year and was more focused. SS advised  that a Corporate Training Calendar will be developed and shared across the organisation to raise awareness amongst the staff group, of the various training packages available, both mandatory and optional. A paper outlining a proposal for training will be discussed at the February 2023 Senior Management Team (SMT). 

MW asked if PIRC had received any proposal for internal audits to be conducted in 2023/24. SS advised that the PIRC plan was to reduce the number of 2023/24 audit days to 15-days and that   a tendering exercise had recently been conducted for this work but had failed to receive adequate bids. 

SS further noted that, following discussion with RSM, it has been agreed that RSM potentially could be directly appointed as the PIRC internal auditors for 2023/24. Discussions are continuing. Once an auditor is formally appointed, further discussion will be held to review what areas will be audited. The AAC will be consulted on the plan. 

AP51: 2023/24 Internal Audit plan to be discussed at the April AAC meeting. 

LH noted that it was uncommon for an organisation to reduce the number of internal audit days  and asked for clarification regarding  the rationale for  this decision. SS advised that due to workload pressures on the Corporate Services team when preparing for, assisting in and progressing follow up actions for audits, the decision to reduce the number of internal audits carried out annually, from 4 to 3 (including a Follow Up Audit), was to allow staff to focus on key areas of business being audited as well as continuing with core business functions. 

JMcC noted that it would be more beneficial for PIRC to focus on risk appetite when considering areas for audit, so as to effect change where necessary. SS noted this position. 

PC2 noted that the final internal audit report would be available for the April 2023 Committee meeting. 

Members noted the update provided. 

External Audit – Audit Scotland 

As this is the first PIRC Committee meeting attended by Audit Scotland, no papers were circulated in advance. 

ML advised that the PIRC 2023/24 Audit Plan would be shared ahead of the April 2023 Committee meeting. 

AP52: 2023/24 External Audit plan to be circulated to members when available 


Commissioners Update 
MML provided a written update to members (circulated in advance), on a range of ongoing work, including: 

Sheku Bayoh Public Inquiry 
Lady Angiolini Review 
Civil Case 
Stakeholder Engagements 
Joint Audit between PIRC and SPA – of the Complaint Triage by Police Scotland’s National Complaint Assessment and Resolution Unit (NCARU) 
LC asked what support PIRC can provide staff who are scheduled to attend the Public Inquiry to provide evidence. MML noted that, to date, only 2 PIRC staff have been cited to attend the inquiry. 

Update 03/02/2023: This has now changed and at present no PIRC witnesses are due to give evidence during the current hearing. 

MML further noted that as each witness’s involvement in the PIRC investigation differed, and they were not due to attend the same hearings. MML confirmed that, in collaboration with the Head of Legal Services, each witness’s support needs would be considered on a case-by-case basis and support offered / provided but was clear that in no way involved any coaching of witnesses as to what evidence to give. The evidence they gave was clearly a matter for each witness alone on the basis of their individual recollection. 

Additionally, SS advised that PIRC have a team of Wellbeing and Support Advisors available to all staff and are aware that staff may wish to discuss concerns about the Inquiry. 

JMcC questioned if there was any benefit to surveying the wider staff group to gain an understanding of any wider concerns surrounding PIRC involvement in the Public Inquiry. MML advised that all staff involved in the initial investigation are kept up to date with proceedings and that feedback from Senior Investigators suggests that there are no feelings of anxiety amongst the staff group at this time. MML advised that this issue would be given more consideration as the Inquiry progresses and PIRC staff involvement increases. 

MW asked about  the focus of the Commissioner’s engagements with the Sponsor Team and Cabinet Secretary. MML explained that these were not subject focused meetings but were regular engagements to provide overview of ongoing departmental workload, review of budgets/finances and to provide an overview of any pressures across the organisation. MML further noted that her next meeting with the Cabinet Secretary was due to be held in person at the Scottish Parliament . 

RS noted that there was a low number of responses received to the Lady Angiolini Review Public Consultation. RS further noted that most respondents agreed that a Statutory Board should be created. MML advised that PIRC was not supportive of this recommendation and that she had discussed this with the Cabinet Secretary. MML further advised that while the Scottish Government has committed to accepting the majority of the recommendations made within Lady Angiolini’s review, further considerations are required, specifically in relation to recommendations where there are significant financial implications. 

Members noted the update provided. 

Risk and Audit 

Risk Register 
Summary Risk Report 
SS advised that there were no significant changes to residual risk scores since the last meeting but asked members to note that further changes are expected as a result of the work being undertaken on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

SS also advised that PIRC are progressing to an electronic Risk Register (‘4Risk’ managed by RSM). The ‘4Risk’ software will allow PIRC Risk Coordinators to track progress, create reports and remove the burden of managing risk through multiple checklists, spreadsheets and documents. She  advised that PIRC Risk Coordinators are assisting RSM to populate the electronic register and that full training for all coordinators is planned for March 2023 with  a potential “go live” date of 1 April 2023. 

SS advised that RSM has offered to provide members with a demonstration of the ‘4Risk’ software at the April 2023 meeting. 

AP53 – Demonstration of 4Risk software being made to members at April 2023 meeting. 

Risk Register Update 
SS advised that, as in the previous year, members would receive an online Risk Assurance questionnaire to complete ahead of the April 2023 meeting. The responses from members would aid PIRC and RSM to capture the views of the members, to inform any updates to the current risks and make improvements where required. 

AP54 – Risk and Assurance Questionnaire to be issued to members – COMPLETE 03/02/2023 

Members noted the updates provided. 

Audit Action Log 

SS supplied a detailed summary of the Audit Log to December 2022 (circulated in advance). 

SS highlighted that a number of actions reported at the last meeting as ‘in progress’, have now been completed. 2 ‘Low’ level actions are still ‘open’ and 1 ‘Low’ level action is ‘pending’. 

LH asked if it would be possible to produce future Audit Action Logs as a RAG Report (Red, Amber, Green). SS noted the request and agreed to consider this approach for future reports. 

AP55 – PIRC to consider amending Audit Action Log to show action status as a RAG Report 

MW noted that it was very positive to see so many of the audit actions completed. 

Members noted the update provided. 


SS supplied a verbal summary of the Management Accounts as at end December 2022 (circulated in advance). 

SS advised that there had been two revisions to the budget considerations since publication of the December 2022 accounts. 

An additional £278k has been made available to offset overspend in legal fees associated with the Public Inquiry. 
The £95k allocation given for the new accommodation works has been reduced to £71k. This is due to delays in access, meaning that building works budgeted for cannot be completed (out with PIRC control). 
SS advised that Scottish Government had granted a one off £263k (2%) payment to cover the pay increase award for 2022/23. * 

*NB – as per email issued on 3rd February 2023 – 2% increase confirmed as baseline increase for 2023/24 and NOT a one-off payment as initially indicated. 

RS asked what percentage of the PIRC budget is allocated to staffing costs. SS advised that approximately 85% of the budget is allocated to ‘Staffing and Commissioners’ costs. SS further advised that a 3-year staffing forecast has been prepared as part of a commission received regarding Public Service Reform. The Chair asked that the forecast be shared with members. 

AP56 – 3-year Staffing forecast to be provided to members – COMPLETE 03/02/2023 

SS further advised that the Sponsor Team has confirmed that a further £229k will be awarded in the 2023/24 budget to cover legal costs associated with the Public Inquiry. 

MML advised that regular dialogue is maintained between PIRC and Sponsor Team in respect of the forecast budgets. 

LC asked if the budget forecast considered incremental salary costs. SS advised that PIRC budget forecast is based on the top tier of each salary band. 

The Chair asked if PIRC had received correspondence from Joe Griffin, Director General, Education and Justice, on proposed Public Services Reforms. MML advised that PIRC had received this correspondence and noted that SS is working with the Sponsor Team to complete and return the commission requested. 

Members noted the update provided. 

Business Continuity Test Feedback 

SS provided a summary of the Business Continuity Plan test carried out on 20 September 2022 and the Call Cascade test carried out on 18 November 2022. 

Business Continuity Test – 20 September 2022 
SS explained that the purpose of the test was to assess organisational response to a cyber threat or attack and what actions were required to increase readiness/awareness. 

SS highlighted that all available staff had attended the test and noted that feedback received was positive with staff commenting that holding the test online had allowed staff from all departments to attend which gave staff the opportunity to collaborate with different teams, share ideas and experiences and gain a better understanding of how such an incident would impact on the organisation as a whole. SS noted that it would be preferential to host future tests by similar means. 

SS noted that all actions raised following the test were now complete. 

Call Cascade Test – 18 November 2022 
SS advised that the Call Cascade test had gone well and that all actions raised following the test were now complete. 

SS highlighted some of the  learning points gained from the test, i.e., forwarding business mobile telephones to personal telephones will only forward voice calls and not text messages, and staff should make use of electronic calendars to provide details of hybrid working location. 

SS advised that the Call Cascade will be tested again in the next 6-months. 

RS welcomed the summary updates provided and noted the valuable learning points raised following both tests. 

MW asked for clarification as to where the Crisis Team contact details are published. SS advised that these are available on noticeboards across the three office suites, within staff canteen areas and on Pulse (staff intranet). 

LC asked for confirmation of what processes are in place when staff leave/join the organisation. SS confirmed that staff contact details are reviewed and updated as necessary. 

Members noted the update provided. 

Any other business

Next Meeting: Wednesday 27 April 2023 at 11 a.m., PIRC Offices, Bothwell House, Hamilton

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