Chapter 2 – Our Inspections
This report covers the period from the end of May 2013 to July 2014. During this period three thematic reports were completed and published.
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's Knowledge Bank
A thematic report on the COPFS Knowledge Bank was published on 10 December 2013.
The COPFS Knowledge Bank was established to provide a dedicated source of legal information. A quality information knowledge base containing relevant, readily accessible, accurate and up-to-date information is an invaluable resource for service delivery organisations.
We found that the Knowledge Bank had evolved since it was first introduced and now provided a repository of information for all staff in COPFS. Feedback from those who use the Knowledge Bank was in general positive. The issues that attracted negative comment were primarily due to IT limitations which had been recognised by COPFS and were being addressed through the development of a new software platform. We made six recommendations designed to further improve the Knowledge Bank. Following publication, COPFS established a dedicated project to progress and implement the recommendations and to develop an upgraded intranet to improve the functionality of the Knowledge Bank.
We are pleased to report that progress has been made on all of the recommendations. Of particular significance is the development of a new intranet which is due to come on stream in late summer of 2014 and will include a facility to play DVDs and to allow feedback from staff on guidance etc that is published.
Link to report - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/12/7479
International Co-operation Unit
A thematic report on the Crown Office's International Co-operation Unit (ICU) was published on 19 March 2014. The ICU is a specialist unit within COPFS that leads in extradition and mutual legal assistance work.
One of the three strategic priorities of COPFS is to investigate, prosecute and disrupt crime. In pursuing this objective, it is widely recognised that crime is increasingly global and that international co-operation is a necessity and priority for all involved in keeping communities safe and in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism and serious crime. ICU plays a pivotal role in ensuring there is a co-ordinated approach within international circles to the investigation, detection and prosecution of such crimes.
We found that in international co-operation circles, ICU was highly regarded and respected. We made 11 recommendations designed to further strengthen the reputation of ICU, to improve procedures relating to obtaining and reviewing European Arrest and International Warrants and to introduce more accurate monitoring systems and key performance indicators.
COPFS has accepted all of the recommendations and implemented a review of the interaction between ICU and COPFS colleagues across Scotland to improve existing procedures and their management systems.
Link to report - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/03/4872
A thematic report on organ retention was published on 1 July 2014. The report was commissioned by the Lord Advocate following the discovery of six cases involving deaths reported between 2007 and 2012 where nearest relatives had not been made aware that an organ had been retained for further examination at the conclusion of a post-mortem examination instructed by the Procurator Fiscal.
The public must have confidence that the examination of a body after death is conducted in a respectful manner and the nearest relatives are informed of all important decisions including if an organ or significant body part has to be retained and of the reasons for retention.
Greater awareness of cultural sensitivities and medical advances has significantly impacted on the need to retain whole organs. The overriding aim is to complete any examination of an organ prior to the deceased's body being released to the nearest relative.
We make 10 recommendations designed to provide assurance that the procedures implemented by COPFS are professional, effective and sensitive and that there are sufficient safeguards to prevent any further instances of nearest relatives not being informed of organ retention following a post-mortem authorised by the Procurator Fiscal.
To ensure that the system of organ retention is robust and working effectively, IPS will undertake an audit and test the procedures governing organ retention six and 12 months after the publication of this report.
COPFS has accepted all of the recommendations and has commenced implementation of those that relate solely to COPFS. It has also established a project team to progress the recommendations which involve the pathology service providers.
Link to report - http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/07/9645