In times of budgetary constraint and rising public expectations, identifying opportunities for efficiencies and service improvement and promoting public confidence in the quality of public services is increasingly important. Inspectorates have a pivotal role in facilitating and driving forward improvement agendas.
The main impact of the work of the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (the Inspectorate) is through publication of our findings and recommendations. In making recommendations, I aim to identify areas of best practice in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) as well as areas where improvements can be achieved. I am aware of the burden of inspection and the need to focus on priority areas that will achieve the maximum impact, without adding unnecessarily to the already onerous burdens of COPFS.
I also consider that a system of monitoring and follow-up of the implementation of recommendations is critical, to ensure that maximum value is obtained from inspection. Under my direction, the Inspectorate has embarked on a programme of follow-up work to monitor the progress of COPFS implementation of our recommendations and to evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of measures implemented.
During 2014/15, the Inspectorate published follow-up reports on Organ Retention, the Health and Safety Division, the Knowledge Bank, the International Co-operation Unit and Community Engagement.
Going forward, follow-up reports will form part of the inspection cycle, with the Inspectorate taking a risk-based approach to the level of further inspection required.
In May 2015, I attended the Five Nations Heads of Inspectorates Forum in Belfast. The forum provides an opportunity to share best practice, new approaches and ideas about improving the impact and effectiveness of inspection, audit and scrutiny. The theme of the forum was inspecting and regulating in austerity. There was consensus that, to minimise the impact of inspection on organisations, inspectorates should ensure that there is no duplication of inspection, encourage collaborative working and that the resources required by organisations to comply and co-operate with inspections were not disproportionate. The ability to measure the impact of value added from inspections was emphasised, recognising that it is important for inspectorates to move into an evidence-based environment in the same way as is demanded from the organisations that they inspect.
Assessing the impact of inspection is challenging due to the difficulty in establishing causal links between inspection recommendations and subsequent improvements in performance, particularly in relation to more nebulous concepts such as cultural change. Despite such difficulties, it is necessary to assess the impact of our reports and recommendations whether in tangible outcomes or through feedback from COPFS and other stakeholders.
The follow-up report on organ retention is an example where outcomes can be quantified. The inspection highlighted the medical advances which significantly reduced the need to retain whole organs and emphasised that retention should only be required in exceptional cases, prompting a cultural change in the approach to the retention of organs.
The primary objective of the organ retention inspection was to ensure that there was a comprehensive and robust system to notify nearest relatives if an organ was retained and to keep them updated. All of the recommendations of the organ retention report were accepted and with the exception of provisions to be incorporated into the pathology providers' contracts, which will be addressed during future contractual negotiation, all have been implemented. The follow-up report and subsequent audits found that, since the publication of the organ retention report, there had been only one instance where temporary retention had been necessary. In that case, there was appropriate and timely notification. No organs have been retained indefinitely since the publication of the report.
It is such outcomes that we seek to identify at the outset of an inspection and to subsequently assess in the follow-up process.
HM Chief Inspector