Chief Inspector's Foreword
The thematic report on Community Engagement was published by the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (the Inspectorate) in June 2011.
It examined the arrangements that Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) had in place to engage with communities and the extent that community engagement impacted on COPFS policy, planning and service delivery.
As the sole prosecutor of crime in Scotland, it is imperative that COPFS is seen to be representative of and responsive towards the diverse needs of all protected groups in Scotland.
The report found that there was a high level of commitment in COPFS to engaging with communities and that the diverse needs of different communities were recognised by COPFS. It made recommendations designed to improve the recording and outcomes of engagement activities and make more use of media and social networking to engage with communities.
Since the publication of the thematic report, there have been significant changes in COPFS that have impacted on the relevance and applicability of some of our recommendations.
In April 2012, COPFS introduced a new Federation structure, which markedly changed the work profile of prosecutors and the structure of COPFS. There are three geographical Federations - East, West and North - and a National Federation comprising of a number of specialist units. The Federations replaced the former Area structure. Each Federation has moved to functional working in "hubs" with some offices dealing solely with a particular work stream, such as initial decision-making or Sheriff and Jury business.
Duties imposed by equalities legislation also influenced the approach taken by public authorities to mainstreaming equality and diversity. To meet the general and specific equality duties, COPFS incorporated community engagement into a more comprehensive equalities' strategy.
The Equality Act 2010 introduced a general equality duty that required Scottish public authorities to pay "due regard" to the need to:
Eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by the Act;
Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not;
Foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not.
To meet these duties, public authorities are required to publish a set of equality outcomes based on evidence and informed by reasonable involvement of equality groups.
In April 2013, COPFS set out a series of equality outcomes. There were two outcomes specifically aimed to enhance and improve community engagement:
Equality Outcome 1
Members of the public and representatives of equality groups have an improved understanding of COPFS role and responsibilities within the Scottish criminal justice system and the COPFS commitment to advance equality in service provision.
Members of the public and representatives from equality groups know how to contact COPFS and that their enquiries will be handled with respect and individual differences are taken into account.
Equality Outcome 3
People have equal opportunity to avail themselves of COPFS services within the criminal justice system.
People have COPFS information made available in a format appropriate to their needs.
We have taken account of these developments and in assessing whether the recommendations have been implemented, we have focused on whether the intention behind the recommendation has been fulfilled.
HM Chief Inspector