THE body overseeing Police Scotland could be reformed to make it more accountable to the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister acknowledged there was a case for the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) to become more answerable to MSPs, in line with other independent watchdogs.

At the moment, the SPA board, which oversees the force’s budget and long-term strategy, is appointed by the Justice Secretary, leading to claims of ministerial interference.

The issue of SPA competence has come to the fore in recent months over its handling of former Chief Constable Phil Gormley, who resigned on Wednesday.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson urged Ms Sturgeon to change the law so that SPA appointments became a matter for Holyrood, not ministers.

She said: “There is an obvious flaw - the head of the SPA is supposed to be independent of government, yet it is the Justice Secretary that appoints that person.

“If the First Minister is serious about strengthening the structure and oversight of the single police force then having its chair appointed by Parliament and not at the grace of ministers... is a good place to start.”

Ms Sturgeon said the current arrangements for the SPA were laid down in statute and changing them would mean primary legislation, “but we are open to discussing that”.

She said: “Ruth Davidson may think - she may well be right - that there are in place for other bodies different processes that would be preferable.

“If we want to make more substantive changes in the future, we will need to do so through primary legislation. It would be entirely appropriate for Parliament to consider that, but that is what would be required.”

Ms Davidson replied: "Guess what, First Minister. This is a Parliament - changing the law is what we do.”

Ms Sturgeon said: “Of, course, we can consider whether legislative change would be appropriate. I suggest that it is proper to consider that fully and robustly.

“Why should we take time? It is because right now we have a new chair of the SPA [Susan Deacon], who is at the start of her term of office. She is doing an excellent job and we should get behind her in that.

“I think that we should consider, in the fullness of time, before we come to appoint a new chair, whether changes are necessary. That will be the right and proper way to do things - which is probably why it is not the way that is being proposed by the Scottish Conservatives.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the creation of Police Scotland had been an “abject failure”, and urged the government to adopt his party’s 2015 review of policing.

Ms Sturgeon said a governance review of the single force was being published shortly.