Independent Audit Committee Member
The statutory Financial Management Code of Practice requires that a Chief Constable and a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) establishes an Independent Audit Committee and recommends that this should be a combined body.
The Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners of Devon and Cornwall and Dorset have created a single Independent Audit Committee to advise them.
The Independent Audit Committee generally provides comments, advice and assurance on matters relating to the internal control environment of the Force and the OPCC. It has oversight of general governance matters and will provide comments on any new or proposed PCC policies and strategies or changes to existing relevant polices and strategies which in the opinion of the Chief Financial Officers are significant with regards to financial risk and probity.
If the Audit Committee has concerns about a specific governance or audit matter it may request the relevant policy or strategy to be presented to the Committee in order that assurance may be obtained and constructive comment provided where appropriate.
Successful applicants will have the opportunity to serve a term of up to five years, working alongside the Chief Executives, Chief Constables and PCCs, reporting directly to the respective PCCs and Chief Constables. To ensure the ongoing continuity of the committee, initially 3 members will be appointed for 3 years and the 3 remaining members for 5 years. No person will serve on the Audit Committee for more than 10 years in total.
The remuneration for Audit Committee members will be paid at the fees set by the Home Office for Police Appeals Tribunal Members. The fees payable for the relevant sitting time (see below) are deemed to be inclusive of any necessary preparatory work prior to the meeting. The current fees are:
- Half day, ie. sittings of 4 hours or less (excluding meal breaks) £105.00
- Full day, ie. sittings of more than 4 hours (excluding meal breaks) £210.00
- Reading time, per hour £15.00
- Other rates/expenses to be agreed as necessary, eg. childcare costs
Meeting rates and reading time to be increased in line with the September Police Pay award commencing 1 September 2018.
REIMBURSEMENT OF TRAVEL COSTS
As a matter of course, the most practical, economic and sustainable method of travel should be used and opportunities to share transport should be utilised if available. Where a private car is used, reimbursement will be at the relevant HM Revenue and Customs approved rate (the car mileage rate is currently 45p per mile up to 10,000 miles), up to a maximum claim for travel of £120 per meeting.
TRAINING AND INDUCTION
The Treasurers and Chief Finance Officers, in conjunction with the Chief Executives will devise an appropriate training and induction programme for all Independent Audit Committee members, including provision for refresher and specialist training as required. In determining the induction and training requirements for individual Committee members, consideration will be given to requirements identified by a training needs assessment upon appointment, in the course of the annual appraisal process, or as a result of the annual review of Independent Audit Committee’s effectiveness.
- Audit Committee Members must be independent of both the Forces and the PCCs. Serving police officers, police staff or members of staff employed in the Office of the PCC are not eligible for appointment. A person who has previously been so employed must have a minimum 2 year break before being eligible to be appointed to serve on the Audit Committee.
- A person who has been appointed or co-opted to serve on the Police and Crime Panel or is a councillor or an employee of a council which is represented on the Panel is not eligible for appointment to the Audit Committee.
(c) Before an appointment to the committee is confirmed, all candidates must be successfully vetted to non-police personnel vetting (NPPV) basic level. Candidates should note that all arrests, convictions and cautions must be declared on the vetting form whether or not they are “spent” under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.
- A person who is an undischarged bankrupt is not eligible for appointment to the Audit Committee.
- All appointees must sign a declaration that they agree to uphold the Committee on Standards in Public Life’s seven principles of Public Life and that they understand the circumstances that could lead to their removal as a member of the Audit Committee. The declaration will require them to inform the Monitoring Officer immediately if they become aware of any allegation or complaint that could have a bearing on their conduct or integrity.
- Committee members are required to declare relevant pecuniary and other interests which shall be recorded in a register of such interests to be kept by the Monitoring Officer. Additionally, in connection with attending meetings of the Audit Committee, relevant personal or prejudicial interests must always be declared in the approved manner. Relevant gifts and hospitality received must also be declared.
- It is a condition of appointment that all Audit Committee members accept that their name, photograph, all declarations of interest, remuneration and expenses received as a Committee member, and registered gifts and hospitality will be made publically available - including on the Force and PCC websites.
- In the interests of individual effectiveness and personal development, it is also a condition of appointment that all Audit Committee members must accept that they will be the subject of an appraisal process with the Chair of the Committee.
COMPETENCIES AND PERSONAL SKILLS AND QUALITIES
This section sets out the competencies and personal skills and qualities which are particularly relevant to the work that will be undertaken by audit committee members.
These core skills, knowledge and competencies are drawn from the HM Treasury – Audit Committee Handbook 2016 and the CIPFA Audit Committees – Practical Guidance for Local Authorities and Police. 2013
All members of the Audit Committee should have, or acquire as soon as possible after appointment:
- Knowledge of the Force/OPCC objectives and major functions.
- An overview of the Governance structures in place.
Audit Committee Role and Functions
- Familiarity with the terms of reference for the committee and accountability arrangements.
- CIPFA position statement on Audit Committees in Local Authorities and Police.
- Six Principles of Good Governance (CIPFA/SOLACE) and requirements of the AGS.
- Local Code of Governance.
- Code of Ethics (College of Policing)
- Awareness of the key principles of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS) and the Local Government Application Notice.
- Knowledge of the internal audit arrangements.
Financial Management and Accounting
- Awareness of the Financial Statements the Force must produce and principles it must follow to produce them.
- Understanding of good financial management principles.
- Home Office – Financial Management Code of Practice for Police Forces of England and Wales.
- CIPFA statement on the role of the Chief Financial Officer of the police and crime commissioner and the Chief of Finance Officer of the Chief Constable.
- Knowledge of the role and functions of the External auditor and who currently undertakes the role.
- Knowledge of the key reports and assurances they will provide.
- Knowledge about the arrangements for the appointment of external auditors.
- Understanding of the principles of risk management, including links to good governance and decision making.
- Risk management policy and strategy
- Understanding of Risk Governance arrangements.
- Understanding of the main areas of Risk fraud to the Force.
- Knowledge of the good fraud risk management.
- Knowledge of the arrangements for tackling fraud.
Values of Good Governance
- Knowledge of the Seven Principles of Public Life.
- Key arrangements in Force to uphold ethical standards – College of Policing Code of Ethics.
- Knowledge of whistleblowing arrangements.
- Professional accountancy qualification
- Professional Internal audit qualification
- Risk management qualification, including practical experience of risk management activity.
- Legal qualification
- Other qualifications in areas of interest to the committee eg data protection
- IT systems and Governance
- Project Management qualifications
- Previous audit Committee experience
- Strategic thinking and understanding of materiality, with the ability to focus on material issues and not be side-tracked by detail
- Questioning and constructive challenge, including the ability to frame questions to draw out relevant facts and to provide constructive challenge to seek explanations whilst avoiding hostility or grandstanding.
- The ability to focus on improvement to ensure there is a plan and action and allocation of responsibility.
- Ability to balance theory with practicality
- Clear communication using plan English, avoiding jargon and acronyms.
- Objectivity in order to evaluation information presented avoiding bias and subjectivity.
FUNCTIONS OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE
Statement of Purpose
The Audit Committee is a key component of the corporate governance for Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and for Dorset Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset.
The purpose of the audit committee is to provide independent advice, assurance and recommendations to the Chief Constables and PCCs of Devon & Cornwall and Dorset respectively on the adequacy of the governance and risk management frameworks, the internal control environment, and financial reporting, thereby helping to ensure efficient and effective assurance arrangements are in place. To this end the committee is enabled and required to have oversight of and to provide independent review of, the effectiveness of all governance, risk management and control frameworks, its financial reporting and annual governance processes, and internal and external audit.
In doing so it should give such advice and make recommendations on improvements as it considers appropriate, and to request any report, policy or other document it requires to provide the assurance they are looking for.
It will review its own effectiveness and provide an annual report to the Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners.
These terms of reference summarise the core functions of the committee in relation to the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable.
Governance Risk and Control
- To review the Annual Governance Statements (AGS) prior to approval and consider whether they properly reflect the governance, risk and control environment and supporting assurances and identify any actions for improvement. By reviewing the:
AGS Timetable (Annual)
Assurance Map (Annual)
- To consider the arrangements to secure value for money and their effectiveness, by reviewing and commenting on the:
Budget planning process (Annual)
Medium Term Financial Plan (Annual)
Financial Regulations (Annual)
Standing orders on contracts (Annual)
Debtor’s reports (Quarterly)
Arrangements for Commissioning (Annual)
Arrangements for the giving of grants (Annual)
The policy and strategy for Sponsorship.(Every 2 years)
The policy and strategy for Reserves (Annual)
Procurement policy (Annual)
HMIC Value for Money reports
VFM comparisons of the Strategic Alliance
- To monitor the effectiveness of risk management arrangements, by reviewing and commenting on:
Risk management Framework including policy and procedures, (Annual)
Oversight of Strategic risks (Quarterly)
Receiving assurance statements on risk mitigation activity (Biannually)
Membership of the primary risk board by an Audit Committee representative.
Insurance programme, insurance brokers appointments, insurer renewal process and arrangements for risk financing. (Annual)
Consider the annual summary of the number of liability claims against the Force. (Annual)
- Consider the wider governance and assurance framework and consider reports on its effectiveness, by reviewing the:
Summary of the Code of Governance (Every 2 years)
Statement of Corporate Governance (Every 2 years)
Scheme of Governance (Every 2 years)
Financial Regulations (Annual)
Board and Meeting Structure (Annual)
- Review the arrangements for the management of fraud and corruption risks.
Reviewing the counter-fraud strategy, (Every 2 years)
Reviewing the fraud and corruption policy (Every 2 years)
Reviewing the ‘whistleblowing’ policy (Every 2 years)
Reviewing the Gifts and Hospitality Policy and declarations (D&C only) (Annual)
- Consider such other reports as may be relevant to Governance, risk and control, as necessary. For example, non-operational HMIC reports or matters raised by the Chief Financial Officers, Treasurers or monitoring officers.
- Annually review the internal audit charter, by consideration of:
Internal audit Charter (Annual)
- Review the internal audit plan and subsequent amendments to the plan by:
Considering the Annual Audit Plan (Annual)
Receiving quarterly updates of progress against the plan (Quarterly)
- Consider the adequacy of the performance of the internal audit service and its independence, and report on the effectiveness of the internal audit function.
Committee producing an annual report to Chief Constables and PCC’s
- To consider the annual report and opinion from internal audit.
Annual report and opinion (Annual)
- To consider internal audit reports, recommendations and progress against those recommendations, by reviewing:
Full Audit reports where partial or no assurance given, (Quarterly)
Summary reports and with actions (Quarterly)
High ranked audit recommendations that have not been completed in agreed timescales. (Quarterly)
- Comment on the scope and depth of external audit work, its independence and whether it gives satisfactory value for money by reviewing:
Quarterly progress reports (Quarterly)
Reviewing the plan of work (Annual)
- Consider the auditor’s annual management letter, relevant reports and the report to those charged with governance.
Considering the Annual management letter (Annual)
Report to those charged with governance (Annual)
- Consider specific reports as agreed with external audit.
Receipt of reports and updates by external audit (As and when)
- Advise and recommend on the effectiveness of relationships between external and internal audit and other inspection agencies.
Committee to comment in their Annual report.
- Review the annual statements of accounts. Specifically to consider whether appropriate accounting policies have been followed and whether there are concerns arising from the financial statements or from the audit of the financial statements that need to be brought to the attention of the relevant Chief Constable or PCC. Reviewing the:
Annual Statements of Accounts (Annual)
Review of relevant accounting policies (Every 2 years)
Treasury management strategy
The documents listed to provide assurance is not exhaustive and so additional assurance can be requested or provided as appropriate.
The terms of reference will be subject to annual review by the Head of Audit, Insurance and Strategic Risk Management.
The Financial Management Code of Practice states that the Audit Committee should comprise between three and five members, who are independent of PCCs and Forces. We are of the view that a Committee of 6 (with a quorum of 4) represents a reasonably robust and resilient approach if the Committee is to discharge its duties effectively.
Chair and Vice-Chair
The Chair and Vice-Chair will be elected annually by the Audit Committee. Such elections will initially take place at the Committee’s inaugural meeting, but thereafter the elections will take place annually at the Committee’s March meeting. It is a matter for the members of the Committee to agree any restriction to be placed on the number of terms of office for the Chair and Vice-Chair.
Frequency of Meetings
The Audit Committee will meet in March, July, September and December. Exceptionally, an additional ad hoc meeting of the Committee may be scheduled if this is agreed by the two Chief Finance Officers, in conjunction with the Chief Executives.
Statement of Purpose
The purpose of the Audit Committee is to provide independent assurance to the PCCs and the Chief Constables as to the adequacy of the risk management framework and the associated control environment, to provide independent scrutiny of the Force’s and OPCC’s financial and non-financial performance to the extent that it affects their exposure to risk and weakens the control environment, and to oversee the financial reporting process.
The Audit Committee will comment and provide advice and assurance on any matter relating to the internal control environment of the Forces and the OPCCs. In addition to internal and external audit, the functions to be overseen by the committee will include relevant control strategies, such as risk management, the PPCs’ governance and assurance statements, and anti-fraud and anti-corruption arrangements. The Committee will also maintain oversight of general governance matters and comment on proposed new or revised Force or PCC policies and strategies which, in the opinion of the Chief Financial Officers, are significant in terms of financial risk and probity. In the event that the Committee has concerns about a specific matter within its remit, it may request the relevant policy or strategy to be presented to the Committee in order that assurance may be obtained.
For the benefit of doubt, the scope of the Audit Committee’s remit will not extend to include Force performance and Force Operational risks or HMIC reports with an operational focus. The management of the internal audit function and any reviews that may be carried out by the Police and Crime Panels are also out of scope.
PCC and Chief Constable Representation
The Financial Management Code of Practice requires the executives of the PCCs and the Force Command Teams are represented at meetings of the Audit Committee. As a minimum this would include both of the Chief Finance Officers and the Chief Executives/Monitoring Officers, plus other OPCC or Force representatives as deemed necessary by the PCCs and Chief Constables.
Methods of Working
The Audit Committee will have a supportive and constructive ethos, whilst providing robust challenge to enable it to provide credible assurance to the Chief Constables and the Police and Crime Commissioners on relevant financial and governance matters. The Committee will advise the Chief Constables and the PCCs according to good governance principles and the adoption of appropriate risk management arrangements.
The Committee will also take account of the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (which includes financial and economic stewardship (including VFM); people and communities (including Diversity, Equality and Human Rights) and environmental sustainability and health & safety).
Publication of Information
This meeting is open to the public. In addition, the agenda, reports and minutes of the Audit Committee will be made available on both PCC and Force websites.