Other inspectorate activity
Recurring themes analysis
33. During 2019-20, IPS conducted an analysis of recommendations made in our inspection reports since 2013 with a view to identifying recurring themes. The themes are listed below. Each theme recurred in at least four inspections, and some in as many as eight. The inspections covered a broad range of topics including the investigation and prosecution of sheriff solemn cases, the prosecution of young people, victims’ right to review, the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes, complaints handling and the management of time limits.
34. The themes have been highlighted as it is useful for COPFS to be aware of areas which appear to cause particular challenges and where its own self-assessment and internal improvement activity could helpfully be targeted.
(1) Systems and processes
The need to amend IT systems and update or streamline procedures to help improve efficiency.
(2) Guidance and instructions
The need to update and issue guidance and instructions following changes to systems and procedures, enabling staff to work effectively
The need for communication, primarily with complainers but also with witnesses, next of kin and complainants, to be understandable, appropriate and timely.
(4) Record keeping
The need for an adequate audit trail for actions taken in relation to cases and documents to be saved electronically in the appropriate system where they can be accessed by all relevant staff.
(5) Roles and responsibilities
Defining and updating roles and responsibilities to help ensure roles are understood and linked together to facilitate progress towards achieving COPFS objectives.
(6) Collaborative working
This relates to communication with partner agencies and making agreements such as memoranda of understanding with a view to providing efficient and effective shared services.
(7) Efficient case progression
The need to progress cases efficiently both to ensure preparedness for trial and reduce the impact of delays on complainers and witnesses.
(8) Performance management
The need to improve the setting of goals, monitoring the extent to which they are achieved and ensuring that lessons are learned so that corrective action can be taken if necessary.
(9) Analytical capability
The need to improve the identification of data and information that can be measured, and to establish methods of recording and reconciling at frequent intervals to ensure the right information is available at the right time and that it can be verified.
(10) Staff development and training
Staff development and training should allow staff to obtain the knowledge and experience that equips them to perform well in current roles and to move on to new roles in the future.
(11) The quality of Standard Police Reports
This final theme has not been the subject of several recommendations, but has been a recurring finding in inspection reports. There is often a need for COPFS to request additional information from Police Scotland, over and above that which is contained in the Standard Police Report. This will allow prosecutors to make the most appropriate prosecutorial decision.
35. In 2019-20, IPS began work on a user involvement strategy, taking into account our statutory duties under the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. Section 112 of the Act requires scrutiny bodies, including IPS, to secure continuous improvement in user focus and to demonstrate that improvement. ‘User focus’ relates to the involvement of users of the services being scrutinised as well as others who act on their behalf. IPS has routinely involved service users in its work in the past including, for example, seeking the views of victims of sexual crime and third sector organisations who work with them during our review of the investigation and prosecution of sexual crime. The user-involvement strategy will build on this previous work and help ensure the user experience is central to the inspectorate’s work.