Chapter 6 – Partnerships
133. Although partnerships were not a main focus of this review we acknowledge that joint working is imperative to delivering communications especially with hard to reach groups with whom other agencies may have connections. It also ensures that common concerns can be addressed, information can be shared and it saves duplication of consultation. We did not speak with criminal justice partners as part of this review as we regarded that as not being community engagement.
Corporate Working Groups and Committees
134. An aim 39 of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is to 'work closely with other agencies in the criminal justice system to make Scotland a safer place'. In relation to partnerships the Strategic Plan 2009/12 states that Procurators Fiscal will:
- Play a key part of Local Criminal Justice Boards, Criminal Justice Authorities, and Community Planning Partnerships in finding local solutions for the improvement of the justice system
- Meet local communities to explain our work and listen directly to their concerns about offending
- Work with community councils and local voluntary groups
- Work with schools, including offering job shadowing to school staff
135. Through a link in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service intranet details can be found of corporate working groups and committees including those relating to Children and Youth, Deaths, Diversity, Environment, Victims and Vulnerable Witnesses, etc. The majority of these groups are externally led and are made up of members from partnership agencies including the Police, Court, Councils, Scottish Government, NHS along with representatives from other agencies representing the young, old, disabled, vulnerable persons, etc.
136. Representation on these groups helps in providing feedback which in turn helps inform policy and practice. Examples are as follows:
- Equality Advisory Group - includes members of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff and external members each with a special interest in areas of equality and diversity. It meets on a quarterly basis. The remit of this group is to 'provide independent and informed advice to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service 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'.
- Working Group on Interpreting and Translation ( WGIT) - includes members of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and criminal justice partners including Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland ( ACPOS), Scottish Court Service, Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Legal Aid Board. The remit of the group is to 'work towards common standards'.
- Age Related Products Enforcement Working Group - includes members of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and external members including Councils, Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scottish Grocers federation, Young Scot, Tobacco Control Team, etc. The remit of this group is to 'develop policy and guidance in relation to and co-ordinate the launch of test purchasing of age restricted products'.
- Wildlife and Habitats Crime Prosecution Forum - includes members of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Scottish Government representatives and the Police along with wildlife groups such as RSPB, SSPCA, SNH. The remit is to consider issues and work towards necessary improvements in law and practice, etc. 40
137. The above groups provide independent input into policy and practice and in fact the Inspectorate is an observer on WGIT, the Equality Advisory Group and the ACPOS/ COPFS Standing Group on Diversity and Race. We have witnessed the discussion of policy, sharing of ideas and provision of advice which is considered by Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
138. A review of the groups still listed in the intranet found that some no longer existed or have not met for sometime. Given that this is a resource which staff can access for guidance/contacts it should be kept up to date.
That Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service update their list on the intranet detailing current working groups and committees.
139. In addition to these corporate working groups and committees we found from our review of Community Engagement Planners that each of the Fiscal Areas are engaged in working groups or forums. These detail partnership working with other criminal justice agencies, councils with regard to community planning 41 and safety, schools and voluntary groups, etc and also internal colleagues such as communications division and various staff forums.
140. Examples, broken down by Fiscal Area, are as follows:
141. Argyll & Clyde
- Involvement in the Community Planning Events with Renfrewshire Council and Community Safety Partnerships
- Taking the lead with criminal justice partners in development of a DVD - 'A Guide to Court Interpreting in the Scottish Criminal Justice System'
- Participation in West Dunbartonshire Multi Agency Racial Incident Monitoring ( MARIM) Group
142 . Ayrshire
- Involvement in multi agency groups including South Ayrshire Community Safety Partnership, East Ayrshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership, North Ayrshire Child Protection Committee and many others
- Representation on Multi Agency Discriminatory Incident Monitoring Group
- Involvement in Strathclyde Diversity Forum
- Representation on the Forth Valley RAHMAS (Racist Attacks and Harassment Multi Agency Strategy). This has involved chairing conferences involving a particular family who have been subject to abuse
- Involvement in the Falkirk Multi Agency Domestic Abuse Forum
- Attendance at multi agency conferences and forums
144. Dumfries and Galloway
- Participation in multi agency groups such as Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, Youth Justice Strategy Group
- Chairing of the local Diversity Group
- Involvement in various initiatives with criminal justice partners eg drugs deaths, young drivers, etc
- Joint training with police
- Involvement in various groups eg Fife Child Protection Group, Safety Partnership Group, etc
- Attendance at conferences
- Attendance at Community Council meetings
- Representation on various groups such as Serious Crime Group, Archway Steering Group, Child Protection Committee
- Involvement in multi agency contingency planning eg impact on low level trains
- Attendance at local MARIM (Multi Agency Racial Incident Monitoring) Group
- Participation in various multi agency groups such as Aberdeen Community Safety Partnership and Community Council, Sex Crime Working Group, Youth Offending Reduction Group, etc
- Representation on the local Ethnic Minority Forum and Grampian Racial Equality Council ( GREC)
- Involvement in Grampian Employee Network
- Consulted in relation to Community Strategic Response to disaster such as fire, flood, bomb threats, etc and participation in Mass Fatality Group meetings
148. Highlands and Islands
- Working with Crown Office Communications and Northern Constabulary communications to ensure that the public are kept advised of initiatives, results and developments in criminal justice
- Representation on Northern Constabulary's Community Advisory Group 42
- Involvement with the Highland Muslim Education Association ( HMEA) along with Northern Constabulary and Highland Council
- Involvement in Highlands R Us event. This event was held in a focal place to capture as many people passing through and included performing arts, information stalls, seminars and workshops. An aim of the event was to showcase Highland diversity.
- Attendance at Multi Agency Racial Incident Monitoring ( MARIM) meetings
- Participation in Local Community Justice Authority
- First Fiscal Area to hold a 'Diversity Week' which included presentations and awareness sessions from various interested diversity groups
- Attendance at conferences eg Hate Crime
150. Lothian and Borders
- Representation on various multi agency groups such as Violence Against Women, Child & Adult Protection Committees, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements ( MAPPA), etc
- Involvement in Community Safety Forums and Community Safety Co-ordinating Group
- Participation in Critical Services Oversight Group designed by Scottish Borders Council in relation to protection issues
- Representation in a Prevention Steering Group aimed at working on projects to prevent crime
- Participation in Tayside Police Strategic Community Advisory Group
- Involvement in Dundee Community Safety Partnership
- Participation in various other multi agency groups such as Angus Public Protection Forum, Dundee Adult Protection Committee, Perth and Kinross Child Protection Committee, Tayside Criminal Justice Board, Tayside Mass Fatalities Working Group, etc
152. In addition to the above all Fiscal Areas work with schools and universities to offer placements, provide talks to pupils, present mock trials and facilitate or contribute to court visits/open doors days.
153. It was noted that some Fiscal Areas appear to be more proactive than others in this respect although we acknowledge that needs may be different due to the composition of Areas involved and availability of partner agencies. Also as discussed in Chapter 3 we note that some activity may not have been recorded in the Community Engagement Planners.
154. As indicated in earlier chapters there is further partnership working through the WSREC contract 43. This contract will not be renewed after April 2011 however it is hoped that good relations will be maintained. Feedback given to us by staff relating to the services provided show that WSREC have been very effective and helpful in making contact with hard to reach communities and facilitating meetings. Feedback given by a WSREC representative indicated that Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has greatly improved in its engagement activities, however, there are worries that due to financial constraints the foot will be taken off the pedal.
155. Results of our focus groups showed that some group members questioned the effectiveness of the Procurator Fiscal attending strategic community meetings and it was thought that attending task group meetings may be a better use of the Procurator Fiscal's time.
156. We discuss in Chapter 4 where effective partnership working can help reduce or share costs in the current economical climate.
157. It is obvious from the representation on working groups, community partnerships and liaison with voluntary groups, agencies, schools, etc that Fiscal Areas do take seriously their role in working with partners with a view to engage with communities in order to make Scotland a safer place. However some Fiscal Areas appear to be more proactive than others.