The inspectorate in 2020-21
33. The inspectorate's budget for 2020-21 was £350,000. The expenditure was as follows:
|Subsistence and motor mileage||0|
|Printing and binding||2,360|
|Travel and accommodation||0|
|Other running costs||7,743|
*No member of staff earned in excess of £150,000.
34. In 2020-21, the inspectorate's travel and accommodation costs were significantly less than normal due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact staff worked almost entirely from home and carried out inspection activity virtually. In addition, the posts of Assistant Inspector of Prosecution and Legal Inspector were each vacant for periods of around four months, pending ongoing recruitment and appointment processes. These vacancies contributed to the underspend in budget. Had the vacancies not arisen, the budget would have been overspent due to rising staff costs. Accordingly, IPS sought and secured a budget increase to £400,000 for 2021-22.
35. The inspectorate is funded by the Scottish Government while office accommodation is provided in kind by COPFS. We are grateful to COPFS for this provision throughout the inspectorate's history although the arrangement regarding accommodation will come to an end by 2023. The inspectorate will seek new premises which will afford the opportunity to reinforce its independent status.
36. As at 31 March 2021, the staff of IPS was 4.4 full-time equivalents and consisted of the Chief Inspector, Assistant Inspector of Prosecution, Legal Inspector, Business Inspector and a Personal Assistant.
37. The posts of Assistant Inspector of Prosecution and Legal Inspector are held by individuals seconded from COPFS. Their knowledge and familiarity with COPFS systems and procedures assists the inspectorate in its scrutiny activity, and the secondments offer COPFS personnel an invaluable development opportunity. The remaining staff are civil servants employed by the Scottish Government. In 2019, for the first time in the inspectorate's history, an individual from outwith COPFS was appointed as HM Chief Inspector.
Register of interests
38. At the time of her appointment as HM Chief Inspector in 2019, Laura Paton had served as a trustee of the charity Together (Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights) since 2016. Her involvement in Together was noted in the register of interests held by the Scottish Government and highlighted on the inspectorate's web pages, and her appointment as HM Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland was likewise noted in Together's register of interests. Appropriate safeguards are in place to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. In September 2020, Ms Paton was elected as Vice Chair of Together, and continued in her role as trustee. In the interests of transparency, her involvement in Together will be noted in the inspectorate's annual reports as well as any inspection report which deals with any substantial issue of children's rights.
Freedom of Information requests (FOI)
39. We publish FOI information and all our reports on our website. During 2020-21, we received one Freedom of Information request and responded within the required timescale.
40. Our Complaints Handling Procedure is published on our website and seeks to resolve any dissatisfaction as quickly as possible and where necessary to conduct thorough, impartial and fair investigations of complaints. Our Complaints Handling Procedure does not extend to individual complaints about operational decisions relating to specific cases. These should be addressed to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (www.copfs.gov.uk).