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Annual Report: Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland 2010-2011

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Foreword

To the Right Honourable Frank Mulholland QC The Lord Advocate

This is my fourth report as Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland since the office was established as a statutory one in April 2007 by the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007.

My duty in terms of the legislation is to secure the inspection of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and to submit to you, the Lord Advocate, a report on any particular matter connected with the operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which you refer to me.

As anticipated in my previous Annual Report the past 12 months have produced cases and issues of considerable importance to the prosecution service in Scotland. Since my last report the Supreme Court has issued its decision in the Cadder case with the huge impact that has had on current and future cases in Scotland. At the time of writing the decision of the Supreme Court is awaited in the Cadder sequel cases.

The UK Government Spending Review has had an impact on budgets for the current year (see Budget section) and is likely, at the time of writing, to have a significant impact in the three years to come. I am pleased to report, however, that for the year 2010/11 we were well within our budget.

The year 2010/11 saw the publication of three thematic reports. The first of these, which was a major undertaking, in conjunction with Her Majesty's

Inspectorate of Constabulary (Scotland), was on Victims in the Criminal Justice System. It is intended that this would be the first of a series of four such reports on the treatment of victims. Victims and their place in the criminal justice system continues to be a high-profile issue and subject to Ministerial commitments both in the Crown Office and in Justice Division.

A second thematic report was published on Learning and Development within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Considerable investment has been made in recent years on learning and development and the creation of the Scottish Prosecution College in Glasgow. The time seemed right to review the arrangements.

The third thematic report was on Community Engagement. The Inspectorate had been created in the wake of the Chhokar case and our earlier work was devoted to race themes both on a thematic basis and an office by office inspection process. In addition, your predecessor as Lord Advocate had encouraged the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to get involved in communities and this report examined how this was being achieved throughout Scotland and identified good practice. The report was published to the background of budget cuts. However, more than ever it seemed appropriate to examine the liaisons which community engagement could deliver on an efficient and economical basis.

All three thematic reports contained recommendations (and suggestions for improvement). Each is examined in more detail in the Annexes attached hereto.

Following the Crerar Review (and earlier work on inspection and regulation reform) the Inspectorate of Prosecution continues to take an evidence based approach and user focus in the production of reports. Selection of topics is risk based and proportionate.

Self assessment has declined somewhat in popularity since my last report and there have been calls for increased independent scrutiny in some quarters. However, I intend to continue, in partnership with Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service colleagues, to assist in developing reliable and informative in house self assessment methods. This was a role contemplated in the public consultation document for the Inspectorate eight years ago on its creation.

Inspection, in my opinion, is about three things:

  • Accountability
  • Quality assurance (where appropriate)
  • Catalyst for improvement

The external independent reports I submit to you are focused on delivering under all three of these headings.

I intend to continue in this vein in the year to come.

Joseph T O'Donnell HM Chief Inspector

Joseph T O'Donnell
HM Chief Inspector
September 2011