To the Right Honourable Frank Mulholland QC
The Lord Advocate
This is my fifth 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 you, the Lord Advocate, a report on any particular matter connected with the operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which you refer to me.
Since the publication of my last annual report the past 12 months have produced cases and issues of considerable importance to the prosecution service in Scotland. I highlighted in my last report the Supreme Court's decision in the Cadder case and since then the decisions have been issued in the so called 'sons of Cadder' case. These cases had been referred by you the Lord Advocate to the Supreme Court.
In November 2011 Lord Carloway published his report following the decision in the Cadder case and the Scottish Government has launched a consultation paper seeking views on all aspects of his report including possible abolition of the corroboration rule. I intend to make a contribution to this important exercise.
During the course of the year the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force. The Inspectorate of Prosecution came into existence as a result of the first recommendation of the Jandoo Report into the Chhokar case (in 2001) and following the introduction of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 you instructed the police to carry out further enquiries into the murder as the first case to be reviewed under the new rules and to be handled by the Cold Case Unit part of the Crown Office's Serious and Organised Crime Division.
The year 2011/12 saw the publication of two major thematic reports. The first of these was on knife crime. Knife crime had and has dominated the headlines in Scotland for many years and our report made six recommendations followed by policy change announced by you shortly thereafter.
In addition the second of a series of reports on how victims are dealt with in the criminal justice system in conjunction with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (Scotland) was published. This second report dealt with cases which had been taken up in the summary courts either in the Sheriff Court or in the Justice of the Peace Court. Such cases impacted on the greatest number of victims in the criminal justice system where cases were taken to court and 12 recommendations were made as aids to improvement.
Both reports are examined in more detail in the annexes attached hereto.
During 2012 the biggest change to the way cases are dealt with by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has been introduced from 2 April 2012. This has meant a move away from work being dealt with locally to the creation of three new Federations. Staff in these Federations now being responsible for discrete areas of work rather than for a geographical area. This change coincided with the biggest change to policing in Scotland by the creation of a single police force (to be effective from 2013). Efficiency savings are expected as a result with greater expertise with work moving rather than people moving. This change had not had time to bed in at the time of this annual report. This will provide both opportunities and challenges for Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Inspectorate.
I mentioned in last year's report that following the Crerar Review efforts had been made in conjunction with colleagues in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to create an in-house self assessment model. The in-house model was suspended during the course of this year pending a review following the creation of the Federations. One of the long standing policies on inspection is to encourage self assessment by organisations and I anticipate close collaboration with Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in developing a new model of self assessment compatible with the Federation structure. This is dealt with in the report in more detail.
The budget, as indicated last year, has now been reduced to £320,000. I am pleased to report, however, that again for the year 2011/12 we were within this reduced budget. I have developed a staffing strategy and programme to ensure we continue to maximise the value for money of our resources.
Joint working in the criminal justice system continues to be a hallmark with much greater co-operation between the key players including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, the police and Scottish Court Service and others. As before I take the view that inspection while delivering on quality assurance (where appropriate) and accountability also acts as a catalyst for improvement and recommendations are focused on what we consider to be practicable and achievable.
Joseph T O'Donnell
HM Chief Inspector