3 INSPECTION REFORM AND THE PUBLIC SERVICES REFORM (SCOTLAND) ACT 2010
As highlighted in last year's Annual Report the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill had considerable potential implications for the inspectorate.
During the course of the year the Bill was passed and received the Royal Assent on 28 April 2010.
The Act had immediate implications for the Social Work Inspection Agency, The Care Commission and aspects of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.
The stated aim of the Bill was, among other things, to make provision about the exercise of scrutiny functions by certain bodies, including provision in respect of the involvement of users of scrutinised services, co-operation and joint inspections.
Aspects of the Bill were in implementation of the Crerar Review (published in September 2007) the remit of which was to evaluate the systems of regulation, audit, inspection and complaints handling and to make recommendations on a framework for the future external scrutiny of public services.
During the course of the Bill five action groups were established to take forward the report's recommendations. In particular greater emphasis was to be placed on self evaluation. One of the action groups which reported to Ministers prior to the passing of the Act looked at and made recommendations in relation to self evaluation. It reported that to be effective self evaluation would need to meet the following principles:
- Be embedded in the culture of the organisation
- Be a continuous, systematic process as opposed to an event
- Be focused on outcomes for and experience of service users
- Support the achievement of organisation or partnership objectives
- Be 'owned' by those carrying out the self evaluation
- Be built on existing good practice and relevant existing standards
- Be rigorous, comprehensive, systematic and transparent
- Be based on a wide range of evidence
- Dovetail with the essential functions of external scrutiny bodies to ensure that those who need less scrutiny get less scrutiny
- Be focused on identifying strengths and weaknesses or areas for improvement
- Involve a wide range of stakeholders
- Be recorded and reported
The Bill as passed gives powers to Scottish Ministers by order to make provision to improve public functions having regard to efficiency, effectiveness and economy including modifying, abolishing or transferring any function. Further there is a duty on listed scrutiny authorities to secure continuous improvement in user focus in the exercise of their scrutiny functions and a duty on scrutiny bodies to co-operate and co-ordinate activity. There are also duties on publishing certain expenditure.
During the course of the year a Justice Audit and Inspection Forum was created consisting of all the main Criminal Justice Inspectorates in Scotland with the aim, among other things, to reduce potential duplication and the impact on bodies being scrutinised and to share evidence where appropriate.
Currently considerable joint work is done with other criminal justice partners especially Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (Scotland). Whole system holistic approaches to inspection have been the norm for some time now.
The Scottish Government's Independent Budget Review was published on 29 July 2010. The Review contains reference to the Crerar Review and highlights the five principles identified by Crerar as governing external scrutiny namely independence, public focus, proportionality, transparency and accountability. The Review repeats the drive towards a greater emphasis on self assessment but also states that most contributors on this issue to the panel suggested there was still a need for external scrutiny subject to such scrutiny being proportionate.
As indicated in last year's Annual Report considerable contact was made with Crown Office officials to share the inspectorate's practice on inspection particularly casework examination methodology.
For the Lanarkshire inspection, referred to in this report, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff conducted a parallel case examination. This is currently subject to review between the inspectorate and the Crown Office. At the moment this process is at an early stage of development with work now underway, following a short break in the summer of 2010, to embed it as a matter of routine practice in all areas.