ANNEX C: AREA REPORTS
In accordance with the Inspectorate's Business Plan and following the conclusion of the office inspections (which were race themed) a new series of inspections of the 11 Procurator Fiscal Areas was commenced (to include Crown Office Headquarters functions). The aim was to produce approximately 4 of these per year giving a complete cycle of inspection over a 3-year period.
In contrast to the office inspections which were race themed the area inspections would cover a wide variety of criminal justice topics including case decision making, compliance with marking policy, drafting of charges, bail decisions, disclosure, service to victims and management issues including management of change, training, performance management etc.
In keeping with an evidence based approach an examination of a sample of cases covering all aspects of the work would be an essential part of the process and give information on the quality of work in the District, Sheriff and High Courts. A wide selection of partners and users of the system would be consulted.
The approach was intended to be flexible enabling any particular issue to be emphasised and would be in accordance with a risk based approach. Thus disclosure is currently a major feature as is decision making on bail.
At the time of this report two such Area inspections had been published and two more were shortly due for publication. As a result of the Crerar recommendations referred to above a temporary hold has been put on these pending a review of internal Crown Office self assessment methods and the establishment of new structures in the Crown Office.
DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY AREA INSPECTION - JANUARY 2008
The Dumfries and Galloway Area covers a large geographical area in the south west of Scotland but is the smallest of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Office Areas as measured by the volume of reports received (about 4%).
There are two Procurator Fiscal Offices in the Area one at Dumfries and the other at Stranraer.
The case inspection work looked at 125 individual files and the report analysed these according to their categories ranging from cases marked "No Proceedings" through to High Court cases.
The overall conclusion was positive with good performance against a backdrop of significant increases in serious crime which is resource intensive. Five specific recommendations were made which were accepted by the Area Fiscal.
GRAMPIAN AREA INSPECTION - FEBRUARY 2008
The Grampian Area covers a large geographical area in the north east of Scotland. The volume of reports received is about 7% of the national total.
There are four Procurator Fiscal Offices in the Area situated at Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin and Peterhead.
As stated the inspection methodology was designed to be flexible and risk based. Accordingly, particular emphasis was placed in the case examination work of Oil and Gas Cases and Fishery Cases which are virtually exclusive to the Grampian Area and carry a high profile in the media and are of political, social and economic significance.
In total some 250 case files were examined and the report again analyses these according to the various categories from "No Proceedings" through to High Court cases.
As a result of some concerns expressed to the Inspectorate particular emphasis was placed on examining disclosure issues.
A major difficulty found in Aberdeen was the filling of vacant posts because of competition from the Oil and Gas Industry.
However, despite this, nearly all targets were met against a background of considerable increases in serious crime (51% compared to a national average of 17% over a 4-year period).
Five recommendations were made in the report.