ANNEX A: OFFICE AUDITS
The Inspectorate's Business Plan for 2005-2008 provided for every office to be inspected for compliance with Crown Office race policies and this programme was completed in 2007, an acceleration of the programme resulted in it being completed six months ahead of schedule.
The approach to these inspections mirrored our first Thematic Report and dealt with race crime, interpreting/translation, staff profiles, investigation of deaths, complaints against the police and outreach/consultation activities.
The Lord Advocate issued (having consulted with the Commission for Racial Equality) detailed instructions to Procurators Fiscal on the approach to be adopted to the prosecution of race crime. There was to be a strong presumption in favour of prosecution where there was sufficient evidence.
The following is an office by office brief summary of our findings, the full reports can be read on our website at www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice/ipis .
ALLOA - FEBRUARY 2007
The Alloa office (part of the Central Area) had a high level of compliance with policy, this was true of all cases examined. In addition good practice was identified in a number of areas including the "rolling up" of separate cases against an accused into a single case giving the court a picture of the pattern of offending, good use of bail conditions to protect complainers, careful consideration of the use of child witnesses and the refusal of inappropriate pleas.
Outreach and consultation activity was good with the Area Fiscal and other staff taking the initiative in making appropriate contacts.
BANFF - JANUARY 2007
Although case numbers were small, compliance in Banff (part of the Grampian Area) with marking and court policy was high with good practice seen in the drafting of charges and the resolution of cases being proactively sought.
There were no specific local outreach initiatives. However, the census showed the area had a very high white population of 99.6%.
CROWN OFFICE HUMAN RESOURCES - OCTOBER 2006
As the first of our inspections of a Headquarters function our inspection of the Human Resources Department of the Crown Office followed a very different pattern from the office inspections.
The report looked at the relevant legal requirements imposed on public bodies by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the Race Relations Act 1976 (Statutory Duties) (Scotland) Order 2002. These include a requirement to monitor inter alia by reference to racial group the number of staff in post, applicants for employment, training and promotion etc.
In fulfilment of these duties a staff survey had been carried out in 2001 and a report for the Crown Office Management Board of all recruitment and promotion undertaken in the calendar year 2006. Although this was generally satisfactory we recommended that it could be developed further in line with guidance issued by the Commission for Racial Equality in particular the training received by legal and administrative staff needed to be presented and analysed separately.
Good practice was identified in that each staff report was looked at individually and that comparison of appraisal marks was done among ethnic groups and on promotion. Similarly, it was encouraging that in relation to grievance/disciplinary procedures that each case was looked at individually and exit interviews were conducted.
On annual publishing of the results of the monitoring, although this had been done, there was some concern about compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. This was to be amended in future.
Our first thematic report on the Crown Office's Response on Racial Issues (published in 2005) contained 12 recommendations 3 of which related to Human Resources. While there had been implementation of some aspects of these at the time of inspection some remained unresolved mainly the issues referred to above.
CUPAR - OCTOBER 2006
Overall, in Cupar (part of the Fife Area) compliance with prosecution policy was acceptable, issue was taken with 2 charges (out of 13).
The minority ethnic community in Cupar was very small but all staff had attended the Departmental Diversity Awareness Programme.
DINGWALL - MARCH 2007
Overall, compliance with prosecution policy in Dingwall (part of the Highlands and Islands Area) on race crime was acceptable.
However, we did express some concern about the progress made in 2 death cases.
All staff had attended the Departmental Diversity Awareness Programme and the Office Manager was a member of the Area Diversity Group and cascaded information to other members of staff.
DUMBARTON - DECEMBER 2006
The Dumbarton office (part of the Argyll and Clyde Area) had a very high level of compliance with policy on the prosecution of race crime (66 individual charges were examined).
There were many examples of good practice including the "rolling up" of separate cases against an accused into one to give the court a full picture of the pattern of offending. Bail was opposed in appropriate cases and standby arrangements made, for example, for shopkeepers who would otherwise be severely inconvenienced. There was pro-active exploration for the need for interpreters rather than simple reliance on police information.
The recently appointed District Fiscal had been particularly pro-active in outreach work with the local minority ethnic community.
ELGIN - JANUARY 2007
Compliance in Elgin (part of the Grampian Area) with policy on race case prosecution was very high, several examples of good practice were found including rejection of inappropriate pleas and the "rolling up" of several cases into one.
One difficulty highlighted by the office was occasional problems in securing the attendance of interpreters for a 10am court start due to the distances involved which could cause delay.
FALKIRK - OCTOBER 2006
Compliance with prosecution policy on race crime in Falkirk (part of the Central Area) was very high especially in view of the large volume of such (92 individual charges were examined as a result).
On the outreach front 2 members of staff were on the Area's Diversity Team and the Area had established a multi racial group chaired by the Area Fiscal. Contact with criminal justice partners and others was also good.
GLASGOW A DIVISION - NOVEMBER 2006
The Glasgow Area is divided into 4 Divisions mirroring police divisions in the city (since our inspection reduced to 3 Divisions).
Overall compliance in Glasgow A Division was very high. The biggest difficulty encountered being the location of case papers which were housed "off site". A second sample was thus requested to maintain the sample size and statistical relevance.
In the event about 140 charges were examined. Given the high number of cases compliance with race crime policy was gratifyingly high although we took issue with a small number of decisions. Feedback was made on performance from Area level back to the Divisions.
The Glasgow Area generally had been particularly successful in recruiting staff from the minority ethnic community and there was an ongoing secondment of a member of the West of Scotland Racial Equality Council ( WSREC) to the Glasgow staff which helped with awareness raising and facilitated outreach initiatives.
GREENOCK - AUGUST 2006
The Greenock Office (part of the Argyll and Clyde Area) had a very high rate of compliance with race prosecution policy. Monitoring outcomes were fed back by the Area Fiscal to the District Fiscal at quarterly Area Management meetings and at office visits.
In 3 cases examined interpreting was required and this need had been met.
All staff had attended the Departmental Diversity Awareness Programme and the District Fiscal was a member of the Area Diversity Team and involved in a range of outreach activities.
HADDINGTON - NOVEMBER 2006
Overall compliance in Haddington (part of the Lothian and Borders Area) with race crime prosecution policy was high and good practice identified in the "rolling up" of cases and pro-active enquiry into the need for interpreters made.
Although the number of charges examined was relatively modest (17) in 2 cases there was a need for interpreting and this had been done including the translation of citations to attend court.
There were no local outreach activities (these being at Area level) but all staff bar one (for whom arrangements had been made) had attended the Departmental Diversity Awareness Programme.
KIRKCALDY - DECEMBER 2006
Overall, compliance in Kirkcaldy (part of the Fife Area) with policy on the prosecution of race crime was high (75 individual charges were examined). The results of in house monitoring were fed back to the District Fiscal from monthly Area Management meetings.
There was good practice in the office seeking further information on the need for an interpreter and all staff had attended the Departmental Diversity Awareness Programme or were scheduled so to do.
KIRKWALL - FEBRUARY 2007
Although the number of race cases was small (4 in total) there was in Kirkwall (part of the Highlands and Islands Area) full compliance with policy on the prosecution of such, both at the decision making stage and at the court stage.
No interpreters had been required for the period of inspection but it was reported there had been no difficulty with such in the past.
Two deaths were reported where there had been special racial or cultural issues. Appropriate contacts and translation had been done. Both investigations were ongoing at the time of inspection.
There was no immediate outreach activity (the local population was 99.6% white) but the office was represented on the Equalities Group in Orkney. All staff had attended the Diversity Awareness Programme.
LERWICK - FEBRUARY 2007
As with Kirkwall the number of race cases reported to the Lerwick office (part of the Highlands and Islands Area) was small (5 charges examined) but there was full compliance with policy on the prosecution of race crime.
No interpreters had been required.
The office was represented on the local Racist Incidents Panel which met in Shetland.
All staff had attended the Diversity Awareness Programme.
LINLITHGOW - JULY 2006
Compliance in Linlithgow (part of the Lothian and Borders Area) with policy on the prosecution of race crime was high. It was noted a small number of cases could not be concluded because of the repeated failure of witnesses to attend court.
Six of the cases examined required interpreters and this need had been met.
The office was represented on the Area Diversity Team and the District Fiscal (who had a long history of involvement in such issues) was a member of the joint Crown Office and ACPOS (Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland) diversity group. He was also a member of various other groups.
Staff had either been on, or were scheduled to attend, the Diversity Awareness Programme.
OBAN - NOVEMBER 2006
As overall numbers were small in Oban (part of the Argyll and Clyde Area) all charges (as opposed to a sample) were requested - 12 in all. Compliance with policy on the prosecution of race crime was high and good practice was found in the appropriate use of bail conditions and the refusal of inappropriate pleas.
Interpreters were rarely required but we were advised there could be difficulties, given its geographical location, in getting interpreters to come to court on time.
Outreach activity was limited, the District Fiscal only stayed in the area during the week.
PETERHEAD - SEPTEMBER 2006
Overall, compliance with prosecution policy on race crime in Peterhead (part of the Grampian Area) was high, only minor issues arising. There was good evidence of proper consultation in particular cases.
A somewhat high level of interpreters was required (about 40 in 12 months we were advised) and no problems were reported. The vast majority of language needs were for Eastern European languages.
There were no specific outreach activities but all staff had attended the Diversity Awareness Programme.
PORTREE - MARCH 2007
There were no actual Fiscal staff based in Portree (part of the Highlands and Islands Area), all the business was conducted from the Dingwall office with the court being manned as necessary.
The number of race cases was small so all were requested (3 in total). In one case the IT system showed an apparent breach of policy in that it had been taken in the District Court (as opposed to the Sheriff Court) but the papers were not available so that could not be confirmed. In another case the racial aggravation to the charge although marked for prosecution was missing when the charge was printed, it was not clear why. However, in the third case there was proper consultation before a decision was taken not to proceed.
There was one death where racial or cultural considerations were an issue. Unfortunately it could not be examined as the papers were in court but an interpreter had apparently been used for translation.
STONEHAVEN - SEPTEMBER 2006
Stonehaven (part of the Grampian Area) was no longer manned and the business conducted from Aberdeen. However, Stonehaven cases were kept separately and the court manned by Deputes from Aberdeen attending on court days.
Race case numbers were small (6 in all) so all were examined. Overall, compliance with race case prosecution policy was good although we did highlight one difficulty.
So far as outreach was concerned Stonehaven was covered by initiatives in Aberdeen and a member of the Aberdeen staff attended the meetings of the Grampian Racial Equality Council ( GREC).
TAIN - MARCH 2007
Overall, numbers in Tain (part of the Highlands and Islands Area) were small so all charges were examined (14 in all). There was compliance with race case prosecution policy in all cases.
The predominant local population is white (99%) but all staff had attended the Diversity Awareness Programme.
Despite the small number of cases interpreters had been used twice and four documents translated.
WICK - MARCH 2007
As numbers in Wick (part of the Highlands and Islands Area) were small all charges were requested (9 in all). Overall, compliance with race case prosecution policy was high, we did highlight one apparent exception but even in that case the decision was understandable as the victim was unco-operative.
No interpreters were required for the cases examined by us but we were aware of a previous difficulty where the Sheriff had deserted a case following concerns about the quality of interpreting provided for a Crown witness. This at the time of inspection was being pursued with the agency involved.
Of the two members of staff one had attended the Diversity Awareness Programme and the other was scheduled to attend.