1.1 The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland ( IPS) was created in December 2003. It is the independent Inspectorate for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS), which is the sole prosecuting authority in Scotland and also responsible for investigating sudden deaths and complaints of a criminal nature against the police. The Inspectorate was put on a statutory footing by the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007, Part 5 (sections 78 and 79) and given statutory powers and responsibilities.
1.2 The principal functions of the IPS are to inspect, or arrange for the inspection of, the operation of COPFS and to report to the Lord Advocate on any matter connected with the operation of COPFS which the Lord Advocate refers to the IPS. The overall aim is to contribute to improvements in service delivery of COPFS, contribute to the accountability of the COPFS and enhance public confidence in the system of public prosecution in Scotland.
1.3 The IPS carries out wide ranging inspections of the 11 separate Areas of the COPFS in Scotland together with Crown Office (Headquarters) functions. In addition it carries out thematic works either singly or more commonly in conjunction with criminal justice partners.
1.4 The IPS is committed to observing agreed policy on the principles of inspection including taking a customer focus, pursuing the purpose of improvement, being evidence based and publishing all reports.
This is the fifth thematic report prepared by the Inspectorate.
All reports can be viewed on the Inspectorate's website at www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/justice/ipis.
1.5 This report stems from a previous Crown Office spending review target which was
"To achieve a 100% approval level of the quality of investigation and decision making in a random selection of complaints against the police cases examined annually by the Inspectorate at 31 March 2006."
1.6 This Crown Office spending review target was picked up in the planning process for the Inspectorate during 2007.
1.7 In the event the remit was -
"To examine the quality of investigation and decision making in a random selection of complaints against the police including compliance with Crown Office policy and procedures in investigating such complaints as laid down in the various policy documents approved by the Lord Advocate and, if appropriate, to make recommendations".
1.8 To limit the timescale the 4 Area Fiscal Offices in Strathclyde namely Glasgow, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and Argyll and Clyde, which collectively make up Strathclyde, were selected for this task. These 4 offices receive over 50% of all the COPFS work for Scotland.