Chapter 1 – Overview
The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland was established in 2003 and placed on a statutory footing in 2007 by the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007. The Act requires the Inspector to secure the inspection of the operation 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 Service which the Lord Advocate refers to the Inspector. The Inspector must also submit an annual report which the Lord Advocate must lay before the Parliament.
The Inspectorate's vision is to enhance the effectiveness of and to promote excellence in the prosecution service in Scotland through professional and independent inspection and evaluation.
The core values of the Inspectorate are:
Independence - to provide impartial and objective advice and support.
Professionalism - to undertake inspections with integrity, rigour, competency and consistency.
The Inspectorate's approach to inspection is to encourage an inclusive and participative process designed to secure improvement across the system acting as an impartial and professional 'critical friend'. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, it is important to highlight and promote examples of good practice so that they can be adopted elsewhere. Our follow-up inspections will enable us to monitor progress in implementing our recommendations and evaluate their impact and effectiveness.
The Inspectorate complies with equality legislation and is committed to promoting equality and diversity. To this end we will consider any impact our inspections and recommendations may have on individuals, groups and communities. IPS attends the Equality Advisory Group (EAG). The EAG was established in 2003 and consists of COPFS staff and external members with a remit "to provide independent and informed advice to COPFS in relation to the impact of existing and future policies and practices on diversity and the promotion of equality and fairness in service delivery and employment".
One area highlighted as a concern by my predecessor was the suspension of the previous self assessment regime by COPFS. The resumption of a systematic internal quality assurance process has been the subject of ongoing discussion with COPFS following my appointment. COPFS advised that the intention was to move from the previous model of self assessment, which involved a review of all aspects of the preparation of the case of a designated sample of prosecution files, to a more objective, targeted and risk-based approach. Critical to the implementation of such an approach, however, is the ability of managers to access case-related data electronically.
COPFS has made significant progress to enable such access and has incorporated within its Management Information system (MI book) a facility that enables managers to drill down into a menu of options to view the initial decision taken in cases and the relevant associated documentation. The focus is to identify cases where the decision does not appear to comply with the prosecution policy and to undertake a review of such decisions. The facility has been utilised in two recent exercises to quality assure initial decisions taken in cases with an allegation of domestic abuse or stalking over a specified period. At time of publication, this facility is about to be rolled out to all managers responsible for initial decisions taken in cases reported to COPFS.
A similar facility that will be accessible as a separate application sitting on a manager's desktop is being developed for cases where there are ongoing court proceedings. This will enable managers to interrogate any aspect of the preparation of the case at any stage to assess, for example, compliance with disclosure or witness citation procedures or identify issues that have resulted in cases being continued. It is envisaged that this will be available by the end of August 2014.
The next step is for the COPFS operational boards overseeing each function to agree a set of key performance areas to be monitored, based on a risk assessment analysis. We will continue to engage with COPFS on the implementation of their revised continuous improvement model.