To the Right Honourable Elish Angiolini QCWS
The Lord Advocate
This is my first report as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland since the office was established as a statutory one in April 2007 by the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007.
My duty in terms of the legislation is to secure the inspection of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and to submit to the Lord Advocate a report on any particular matter connected with the operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which the Lord Advocate refers to the Inspector.
The year 2006-2007 saw the completion of the original work programme of race themed office inspections and a new programme of inspection of the 11 Procurator Fiscal Areas and Crown Office covering a wide cross section of the work of these areas. The programme is designed to cover topics such as bail, disclosure, treatment of witnesses, casework etc and is intended to be risk based and adaptable to change in tune with the changing criminal justice landscape and priorities.
Two Area reports were published in the period covered by this report, Dumfries and Galloway and Grampian. A large number of cases were reviewed as part of the inspection process examining how policy had been put into practice and views were sought from a wide range of criminal justice partners and others. Contact was made with a significant number of witnesses at court thanks to assistance from the Witness Service.
In addition to the office and now area inspection programme, stand-alone thematic reports were concluded on Liaison in Death Cases (including organ retention), on the processing of Complaints against the Police in the four Strathclyde Procurator Fiscal Areas and (in conjunction with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Police) on the arrangements for the preventing, investigating and prosecution of wildlife crime. Wherever possible work is conducted in conjunction with criminal justice partners either directly in the form of joint inspection or by enlisting the help of partners in the various steering groups created to facilitate the production of reports. In this way a broad spectrum of opinion is included.
Our approach to inspection is in keeping with accepted principles on inspection including pursuing the purpose of improvement, focusing on outcomes, taking a user perspective, using impartial evidence and being proportionate to risk.
The Lord Advocate's Advisory Group underwent considerable membership change during the year due to retirals and new members were enlisted. The Advisory Group continues to be a useful source of advice and recommendations on the work programme of the Inspectorate and the selection of topics to be covered.
The year saw the publication of the Crerar Review being the report on the regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling of public services in Scotland. The report was debated in the Scottish Parliament and the forthcoming year will see an implementation phase of agreed recommendations. This is likely to have important implications for the future landscape of inspection in Scotland and this Inspectorate hopes to play its part in the development of such.
Finally, I would like to thank the considerable number of individuals and bodies who gave freely of their time and expertise in the production of this year's various reports and without whose assistance such would not have been possible.
The overarching aim of the Inspectorate is to contribute to making improvements in the service delivery of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, making it more accountable and enhancing public confidence. The year ahead will undoubtedly be a challenging one and it is my intention to seek to produce value adding reports, build on existing foundations and develop the Inspectorate as a catalyst for improvement in the criminal justice system.
Joseph T O'Donnell
HM Chief Inspector