Chief Inspector's Foreword
The thematic review of the International Co-operation Unit (ICU) was published in March 2014.
Crime is increasingly diverse and global. Organised crime, money laundering, fraud, human trafficking, internet crime and terrorism are rapidly expanding and frequently transcend national boundaries. To frustrate and effectively prosecute those involved in such offending, co‑operation with organisations and countries beyond Scotland, including intelligence sharing, is essential.
The ICU was established in 2009‑10 to deal with serious and often high profile crimes with an international dimension. It functions as the central authority in Scotland for all aspects of international criminal co-operation. The Lord Advocate (through ICU) requests assistance from other jurisdictions and represents foreign authorities and acts on their behalf on international matters in Scotland.
The thematic report found that Scotland is highly regarded and widely respected in international co-operation circles, often resulting in effective reciprocal assistance from other jurisdictions, and that specialisation had enhanced the expertise of ICU. It also identified a number of areas where there was scope for improvement.
We made 11 recommendations designed to strengthen the reputation of ICU, improve procedures to obtain and review European Arrest and international warrants and introduce more accurate monitoring systems and key performance indicators.
Two developments have contributed positively to the effectiveness of the Unit:
- Following the establishment of a single Scottish Police force, the creation of a centralised International Assistance Unit (IAU), dealing with all incoming and outgoing extraditions, provides ICU with a single point of contact with Police Scotland. The IAU alerts ICU to any new developments, including the apprehension of any fugitives.
- The re-incorporation of ICU into the Serious and Organised Crime Division (SOCD) has engendered a close working relationship between the two units and ensures that the Head of ICU is sighted on any cases with potential international links and involved at an early stage in any operational or strategic meetings.
There has been progress in a number of areas; ICU has creatively used opportunities to enhance their profile, introduced more rigour into procedures to obtain, monitor and review European and international warrants, raised awareness of their role in Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and clarified their relationship with the Federations.
There has, however, been a lack of progress on the recording and collation of management information. This impacts on our ability to assess the effectiveness of the progression and management of cases in ICU. To address this concern, we advocate that ICU prioritises the implementation of an effective recording system and the application of their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
HM Chief Inspector