Chapter 2 – Methodology
2.1 Policy and guidance material relating to the issue of Fiscal Fines 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 Fiscal Fines including compliance with the in-house guidance and the results analysed.
2.2 This initial report looks only at Fiscal Fines issued and not Compensation Offers or other 'Direct Measures'. Nor does it look at this stage at cases taken to court where there might have been the possibility of the issue of a Fiscal Fine or other measure.
2.3 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 Fiscal Fines was selected from each of the 11 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Areas in Scotland. These were cases 'closed' in the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service IT system in September 2008. This meant that in practice 6 months had elapsed from the commencement of the new powers thus allowing time for the new system to bed in.
2.4 The cases were picked by the Inspectorate Team to cover all the available levels of Fiscal Fine and all types of case. A table is produced for each of the Areas showing the number and levels of cases examined.
2.5 In total about 1500 cases were examined in detail and the decision making compared to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service guidance. Because of multiple accused and multiple charges approximately 2000 charges were examined. This represented about 40% of the cases closed that month.
2.6 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.
2.7 In addition the Inspectorate Team attended much of the training on Summary Justice Reform offered by the newly opened Scottish Prosecution College in Glasgow and we are grateful to the College for facilitating this. A form of recording was devised to ensure that all the Inspectors doing this work covered the same issues as far as possible. In particular any apparent deviation from the guidance was noted.
2.8 Any cases identified as "apparent" breaches of policy were then taken up with the issuing offices for any comments they had. The substance of the replies are now contained in the body of this report.
2.9 We would like to thank the members of Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff and others who responded to our various requests for information.