Chapter 2 – Methodology
2.1 Policy and guidance material relating to the issue of Fiscal Fines and Compensation Offers was accessed and reviewed. The guidance remains confidential but the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland has access to it. A questionnaire was devised that addressed various aspects of the issue of Compensation Offers and combined Fiscal Fine and Compensation Offers including compliance with the in-house guidance and the results were analysed.
2.2 The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland takes an evidence based approach to the work and the methodology used in this inspection was strongly evidence based. A random selection of Compensation Offers and combined Fiscal Fine and Compensation Offers was selected from each of the 11 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Areas in Scotland. These were cases recorded in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service IT system in September 2008 and May 2009. This meant that in practice (from September 2008) 6 months had elapsed from the commencement of the new powers and 14 months in relation to the cases examined in May 2009.
2.3 The cases were picked by the Inspectorate Team to cover all the available levels of Compensation Offer and combined offer (ie combined Fiscal Fine and Compensation Offer). A table is produced for each of the Areas showing the number and levels of cases examined.
2.4 In total about 270 cases were examined which were recorded in May 2009. An earlier sample of 240 Compensation Offers and Combined Offers looked at the data from September 2008. The report concentrates on the most recent sample of 270 cases. However, examination of the two sets of data shows that the issues thrown up in the recent sample reflect the issues from the earlier sample. Cases examined in May 2009 represent about 75% of the cases issued that month.
2.5 The sample size although reasonably large is not held out to be statistically relevant but large enough to get an indication of the type of decisions made across the country and detect any emerging issues about compliance with the guidance.
2.6 In addition the Inspectorate team had previously attended much of the training on Summary Justice Reform offered by the Scottish Prosecution College in Glasgow and we are again grateful to the college for facilitating this. A form of recording was devised to ensure that all inspectors doing this type of work covered the same issues as far as possible. In particular any apparent deviation from the guidance was noted.
2.7 Any cases identified as "apparent" breaches of policy or guidance were then taken up with the issuing office for any comments they had. The substance of the replies is now contained in the body of this report.
2.8 We would like to thank the members of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff and others who responded to our various requests for information.