Chief Inspector’s Foreword
The thematic review of the Health and Safety Division (HSD) was published by the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) in April 2013.
The impetus for the review was two-fold; the increasing profile of health and safety crime and the creation of a specialist division to investigate and prosecute all health and safety offences reported to the Procurator Fiscal, including those that resulted in fatalities.
The establishment of HSD was an early example of specialisation that has been promoted by the Law Officers. Recognising the increased profile of health and safety crimes and the complexity of many health and safety cases, HSD was established to work closely with law enforcement to bring a more strategic approach to the prosecution of health and safety cases and ultimately drive up safety standards in workplaces throughout Scotland through robust investigation and prosecution of those who failed to discharge their health and safety obligations.
Highlighting the increasing complexity of health and safety crimes, the report concluded that:
- the creation of a specialist unit was an appropriate and necessary response;
- cases prepared by HSD were of a high standard;
- there should be earlier consideration of the appropriate forum for all cases;
- the age profile of health and safety cases was of concern.
The review made 38 recommendations designed to improve the efficiency of HSD and reduce the age profile of health and safety cases.
We are encouraged by the substantial progress that has been made in implementing the recommendations and the improved effectiveness of HSD as evidenced by a number of indicators including a significant increase in the throughput of cases and positive feedback from agencies and representatives who have regular contact with HSD.
The thematic review highlighted issues with the reliability, accuracy and consistency of data held by HSD. During the follow-up review, we experienced similar difficulties. To address this concern we have made two new recommendations intended to improve the quality of data held by HSD and support the management and prioritisation of cases.