Part 1 – Introduction and Background
1. ICU was set up as a separate entity in 2009-10 to deal with serious and often high-profile crimes with an international dimension. ICU functions as the central authority in Scotland for all aspects of international criminal co‑operation. It handles all incoming and outgoing extradition cases, and deals with all incoming and outgoing requests for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA).
2. MLA is the formal process of seeking or providing assistance in criminal investigations by sending International Letters of Request (ILoR). This can be in the form of taking affidavits and statements or obtaining search warrants with the intention of using the information as evidence in accordance with the legal requirements of the respective jurisdiction.
3. The work of ICU has steadily increased over the years. This is against a background of an increasing number of EU states, leading to a greater migration of EU workers, along with an ever expanding use of the internet contributing to a rise in international crimes many of which are organised and initiated from abroad and an increase in serious organised crime often involving an international element. New legislation, including the Extradition Act 2003 and the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 has also created additional work.
4. At the time of the inspection, ICU had ongoing contact with 62 countries.
Aims and Objectives
5. The aims of this inspection were:
- To review the effectiveness and efficiency of arrangements, processes and systems employed by COPFS staff, both legal and administrative, in ICU for the implementation of the Extradition Act 2003, the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, and any other international agreements in relation to extradition to and from Scotland and mutual legal assistance to facilitate prosecution or sentencing in the appropriate jurisdiction.
- To examine compliance with COPFS policy and review inter‑agency working arrangements between countries, police and other criminal justice partners.
6. The objectives were:
- To assess the quality and timeliness of implementing requests from foreign jurisdictions to extradite persons from Scotland for criminal proceedings or to serve a previously imposed custodial sentence.
- To assess the quality and timeliness of implementing requests from ICU to extradite persons from foreign jurisdictions for criminal proceedings or to serve a previously imposed custodial sentence.
- To assess the quality and timeliness of the implementation of Letters of Request and co‑operation from foreign jurisdictions to secure evidence for the purpose of criminal proceedings.
- To assess the quality and timeliness of requests seeking MLA and co‑operation from foreign authorities to secure evidence for the purpose of criminal proceedings.
- To identify and promote good practice and areas for improvement.
7. The review was carried out using a number of techniques based on accepted principles of inspection, including:
- Visits to Extradition Courts
- Office visits
- Review of case papers
- Analysis of information
- Report writing
8. This included:
- A review of all legislation and protocols relevant to international obligations.
- A review of relevant departmental policies and strategic plans.
- A review of relevant departmental internal and external protocols.
9. Interviews with criminal justice partners including sheriffs, sheriff clerks, solicitors, advocates, police, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Scottish Government officials, United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA), International Liaison Magistrates (ILMs) and Eurojust representatives.
10. Interviews with COPFS staff including International Co‑operation Resource Deputes (ICRDs).
11. Examination of a sample of case papers - we examined 84 concluded cases and eight active cases which comprised 25% of ICU caseload at the time of the inspection.