Part 2 – Leadership
12. There has been a strategic decision to move towards greater specialisation in COPFS in recent years. This has been actively promoted and advocated by the Law Officers. In addition to ICU, there are a number of specialist units including the National Sexual Crimes Unit, the Serious and Organised Crime Unit, the Health and Safety Division and the Wildlife and Environmental Crimes Unit.
13. In the 2009-12 COPFS Strategic Plan, the then Lord Advocate stated that she was "committed to developing specialists to deal with diverse areas, including all aspects of serious crime".
14. Under the heading "Fighting Serious and International Crime", it stated:
"Crime is increasingly diverse and global. Organised crime cases are accordingly increasingly complex and lengthy, and frequently require close liaison with and assistance from, colleagues working in criminal justice across the world. Overall, the number and scale of major investigations continues to increase."
15. The response was to set up the National Casework Division (NCD) "to provide a focused proactive response to carry out major intelligence-led investigations into organised crime".
16. International co-operation, which had previously been a discrete function of the Fraud and Specialist Services Unit, became part of the NCD, managed as a separate Unit headed up by a senior civil servant.
17. The most recent COPFS Strategic Plan 2012-15, re‑affirms the strategy of having staff "develop more expertise in an increasingly complex environment". It particularly highlights serious and organised crime where it states that COPFS "play a crucial role in Scotland's response to serious and organised crime, working with law enforcement agencies and the Scottish Government to deliver the aims of the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy".
18. This strategy acknowledges that many criminals in Scotland have connections that extend over the world, and that crime is expanding rapidly into new growth areas including money laundering, fraud, human trafficking, counterfeit goods and internet crime. It is recognised that to frustrate and effectively prosecute those involved in such offending, co-operation is required with organisations and countries beyond Scotland, including intelligence sharing.
19. During our review, as part of a wider re‑structuring exercise, a decision was taken to re‑incorporate ICU into SOCD. Within SOCD, there are now two deputy heads with one of them heading up and being responsible for the day-to-day running of ICU, reporting to the Head of SOCD, who in turn reports to the Director of the Serious Casework Group.
20. It is clear that within the international arena contacts and reputation is of utmost importance. Within international co-operation circles in Europe and the rest of the world, Scotland is highly regarded and widely respected. In the international arena, an identifiable point of contact is essential. ICU provides that point of contact, and its reputation is critical in maintaining good relations. When requesting assistance from other countries and dealing with their requests the Lord Advocate acts on behalf of foreign authorities and ICU represents the Lord Advocate.
21. The Law Officers recognise the importance of having a high profile in the international arena and play an active role in representing Scotland at a number of international forums and conferences. Of particular note is their participation on the Consultative Forum of Prosecutors General and Directors of Public Prosecutors of the Member States of the European Union. The forum focuses on improving international judicial co-operation by sharing experiences of prosecution strategies and best practices in dealing with serious and organised crime including offences affecting the financial interests of the EU, human trafficking and terrorism, the use of investigative procedures and techniques, rules of evidence, and the use of co-operation measures to assist with extradition and MLAs.
22. The Law Officers also regularly attend the Justice and Home Affairs Council which is comprised of the Interior and Justice Ministers of the Member States. The Council deals with the development and implementation of judicial and police co-operation and common policies relating to the protection of fundamental rights, migration, asylum and border management.
23. There are a number of international conferences at which the Law Officers also frequently represent Scotland including, the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting (CLMM), the Heads of Prosecuting Agencies Conference (HOPAC) and the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law (ISRCL).
24. There are an ever-increasing number of international organisations involved in various aspects of law enforcement and making and maintaining contacts with such organisations is a critical part of effective working in this arena.
25. Providing effective and timeous assistance to a foreign authority goes a long way to ensuring reciprocal assistance when it is required. To enhance the reputation of the Unit it is important that the Head of ICU and the staff of the Unit maintain a high profile in this arena. Of note, in this regard, is training that has been provided by a senior member of the ICU team at the Academy of European Law at Trier in Germany on extradition to international delegates who specialise in extradition matters and also to a UK-wide body of the Judiciary who specialise in this area.
26. The importance of having a network of contacts is evidenced by the co-operation recently provided by Albania, who provided crucial assistance by locating an essential witness and thereafter serving a witness citation and making travel arrangements for the witness to return to Scotland to give evidence in a high-profile murder trial.
27. This co-operation followed Scottish assistance in a case where the Albanian Government is seeking the extradition of an Albanian national alleged to have been responsible for a murder of another Albanian national in London. The person alleged to have been responsible was subsequently located and arrested in Glasgow and is the subject of ongoing contested extradition proceedings with the Lord Advocate representing the Government for the Republic of Albania. In preparing for the appeal, a senior lawyer in ICU travelled to Albania for a fact-finding exercise and to meet with senior justice officials.
28. In another high-profile murder case, the suspect fled Scotland via the Netherlands. Over the years ICU has formed a number of contacts in the Netherlands and following representations from ICU the Dutch police detained the suspect at the airport in the Netherlands along with incriminating evidence.
29. At present ICU interacts and deals with Eurojust, International Liaison Magistrates (ILMs), the European Judicial Network (EJN), the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP), the Ibero-American Network for International Legal Co‑operation (IberRed) and the Commonwealth Network of Contact Persons (CNCP). Co-operation among foreign authorities is key as there are often no enforceable processes to ensure assistance is given or, if it is given, that it is carried out within specific timescales.
30. Co-operation tends to be more effective and speedier when there are good inter-personal and working relationships between officials in different countries. This is particularly important when dealing with countries that are not governed by legislation or treaties with the UK. The work in such cases is akin to that involved in diplomatic negotiations.
31. In addition ICU works very closely with other UK bodies, such as the Scottish Government, Home Office, the Judicial Co-operation Unit including UKCA, police and similar agencies, such as SOCA. We have spoken to representatives of all of those organisations and ICU is regarded favourably across the board.
32. Being seen as credible and effective is undoubtedly an asset. Establishing a good reputation is a credit to the efforts of the ICU team to make and maintain contacts with the main international organisations. However, cementing these relationships and maintaining their high regard could be advanced by ICU having a clear and overarching strategy.
ICU should continue to ensure that a co‑ordinated approach is taken to reinforcing its high profile within international circles through a planned timetable of engagements and interactions.