We recommend that a written remit of HSD work is prepared and promoted throughout COPFS by being made available through the "Intranet" and also to the reporting agencies. This should clarify which cases will be dealt with by HSD, which are dealt with by SFIU, which are to remain within the Federations for prosecution and how agreement about these issues are to be dealt with in "borderline cases". In particular this protocol should agree the division of duties in relation to deaths so all tasks are covered.
We recommend that the case marking guidelines, the knowledge bank and any other reference or guidance should be amended to direct appropriate cases to HSD. This should be clearly cross referenced to the remit recommended above. Instruction and guidance about how these cases should be marked should also be included.
We recommend that full desk instructions are prepared and issued for all administrative posts.
We recommend that more training and guidance be provided to specialist agencies on how to send reports via the Specialist Reporting Agency (SRA) website to COPFS.
We recommend that all cases are reported electronically and that HSD decline to accept any not so submitted.
We recommend that, where criminal cases are reported by multiple agencies, all reports for the incident should be rolled up in FOS to allow a single case reference number to be used and all case documents to be found within the one case reference in FOS, SOS and PROMIS.
We recommend that HSD use their existing FOS report tray and office code. This would allow cases identified as being for HSD to automatically flow.
We recommend that an exhaustive list of charge codes should be prepared and entered in to FOS to ensure all appropriate cases go to HSD and that that list should be regularly reviewed and updated.
We recommend that, as soon as forum is decided upon, the case should be re‑marked in FOS to bring it under the umbrella of MI Book and to allow central and local monitoring of all work in HSD. Every stage of the life of the case should be recorded within the database.
We recommend that use of spreadsheets as sole records ceases and that use is made of existing national systems (PROMIS) to record, monitor and manage the work. A decision should be made about which spreadsheets are to be used for internal purposes and all others should be deleted from the shared drive to avoid confusion. Thereafter that remaining spreadsheet should be kept up to date and accurate.
We recommend training for the administrative manager to allow more effective set up and work with spreadsheets, if spreadsheets are still to be used for internal use.
We recommend that if the 'Case Load' document is to be retained it must contain ALL relevant cases, updated at regular intervals for it to be really meaningful. The case load document should be available for all and be on the shared drive.
We recommend reporting agencies submit all documents such as statements and productions electronically into the case directory to allow disclosure on the website, using the Disclosure Manual Client (secure disclosure website) as do all other mainstream units.
We recommend that full discussions take place with all reporting agencies as soon as possible to allow a training programme on disclosure schedules to be arranged as a priority.
We recommend further training of specialist agencies to ensure their reports and statements meet the needs of the prosecutors and to minimise the need for precognition. This would speed up the preparation process and bring the HSD more into line with all mainstream units.
We recommend that at all stages the system should be fully updated to allow fruitful interrogation of the system by any enquirer and also to allow Management Information Division (MID) to provide automatic information about the stage and state of case preparation with a view to flagging up any potential problems in time to prevent delays and risks to reputation re old cases.
We recommend that Crown Counsel's Instructions are acted upon within an agreed short timescale.
We recommend that targets are imposed on reporting agencies to ensure cases are reported within much shorter timescales than at present.
We recommend that internal targets are put in place to avoid cases becoming too old, both for meaningful prosecution and for any ensuing civil case. It may be that individual targets could be attached to each case, based on complexity, to allow for a realistic preparation time. A target should also be extended to cases as they are reported for CCI.
We recommend that wherever possible information required for processing a civil claim is passed to representatives of victims and next of kin as soon as possible to allow them to raise a civil action within the three year civil time bar.
We recommend that HSD hold regular management meetings to ensure cases are progressed as quickly as possible.
We recommend that more cases are indicted into court for trial rather than waiting for the defence to agree a plea.
We recommend that all mail and documents created within HSD are stored in the electronic record of the case.
We recommend that in order to avoid a bottleneck Principal Deputes are given more autonomy to make decisions about forum, charges and agreed narratives and acceptable pleas leaving the Head of Unit freer to train reporting agencies, improve reports and concentrate on the initial stages of investigation with HSE and the other reporting agencies.
We recommend that early consideration is given to placing cases wherever appropriate on summary complaint and fixing court dates for them as priority.
We recommend that work is allocated geographically wherever possible.
We recommend that when cases are sent to Crown Office there should be an accompanying letter or email indicating the complexity of the decision for Crown Counsel and giving a target or an indication of urgency. This information should be recorded both within HSD and Crown Office as part of an audit trail and as an aid to monitor progress of and manage work.
We recommend that two Crown Counsel should be appointed on a "staggered" basis to prevent lengthy periods where no Crown Counsel is available due to other work commitments.
We recommend that original hard copy papers should not routinely be sent from office to office.
We recommend that the level of staffing of Fiscal Officers should not be allowed to fall from the agreed level of three for any period in excess of four weeks without cover from some other source.
We recommend that there should be an agreed complement of Legal and Precognition staff. Where staff members do leave the unit they should be replaced within an agreed short period with a minimum agreed handover, to allow work to carry on more fluently than at present, thus avoiding delays.
We recommend that there should always be an agreed period for Legal and Precognition staff to remain within the unit. There should perhaps be a short trial period to allow the staff to determine whether the work will suit them.
We recommend that consideration be given to creating a "reserve list" to minimise delays in recruiting.
We recommend that all complaints and compliments should be recorded in Respond, to monitor how HSD is performing.
We recommend that a B/U (bring up) system is used by all managers in HSD to monitor the progress of cases.
We recommend more formal and informal training in health and safety law for staff on a regular basis, particularly for new members of staff. A prepared pack would be very useful.
We recommend training for those with an interest in joining the unit in the future. This would build up a bank of staff to cover quickly when team members leave. It would also provide a bank of knowledge when large cases are reported and additional support and resources are required.
It is recommended that regular team briefings are held and minutes noted and recorded on the shared drive.