Publication - Factsheet

HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: guide

Published: 2 Dec 2019
Part of:
Law and order

Information about the Inspectorate's aims, objectives and approach to inspection.

2 Dec 2019
HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: guide

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) is an independent scrutiny body whose role is to inspect the operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). COPFS is the sole prosecuting authority in Scotland.

Independent status

The Inspectorate is independent from COPFS. It is led by HM Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland who reports directly to the Lord Advocate.

Our staff are not involved in any activity relating to the operation of COPFS. While some staff are seconded from COPFS to work with IPS on a fixed-term basis for their expertise on prosecution-related issues, when at IPS they are under the direction of HM Chief Inspector of Prosecution.

Vision and values

Our aim is to enhance the quality of service and public confidence in COPFS  through independent inspection and evaluation

Our principal statutory functions are:

  • to secure the inspection of the operation of COPFS
  • to submit to the Lord Advocate a report on any matter related to the operation of the service which the Lord Advocate refers to the Inspector
  • to submit to the Lord Advocate an annual report on the exercise of the Inspector's functions which the Lord Advocate must lay before the Scottish Parliament

More information about our work is in the framework document below.

Inspectorate team members

Laura Paton, HM Chief Inspector

Ms Paton has a background in human rights law with a particular focus on the rights of those involved in the criminal justice system and the rights of children and young people. Until appointed as HM Chief Inspector of Prosecution in Scotland, she was a Lead Inspector for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland where she inspected the state, efficiency and effectiveness of policing from 2013 to 2019. Ms Paton led inspections of a wide range of policing activity including local policing, custody, crime recording, call handling, firearms licensing and railway policing. 

Previously, Ms Paton worked with HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) in England and Wales providing policy and human rights advice on the independent inspection of prisons and other forms of custody. From 2009 to 2013, Ms Paton was also the first coordinator of the UK's National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), a group of organisations tasked under international law with monitoring all places of detention. Prior to joining HMIP, she worked for the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland, Children 1st and the Children’s Legal Centre, where she was editor of a journal of law and policy affecting children and their families.

Ms Paton currently serves as a trustee for Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights. She has a First Class Honours Degree in Scots Law from the University of Glasgow and a LLM in Human Rights Law from Glasgow Graduate School of Law.

The appointment took effect on 15 November 2019.

Carolyn Sharp, Personal Assistant to HM Chief Inspector

Carolyn joined Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in January 2002 having previously worked for Glasgow City Council in secretarial and administrative roles. She worked within Glasgow Procurator Fiscal's Office as Fiscal Officer and latterly deputised as PA to Area Procurator Fiscal.

Carolyn joined the IPS in October 2003.

Kate Neill, Business Inspector

Kate joined Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in 1986 and worked in administration at the Dumfries, Ayr and Glasgow Procurator Fiscal Offices. She transferred to the Crown Office Internal Audit Unit in September 1994 where she qualified as an internal auditor and remained there until she joined the Scottish Executive Audit Services in December 2004.

Kate joined the IPS in July 2005.

Yolande Love, Legal Inspector

Yolande joined the IPS in October 2017 on secondment from COPFS.

Karen Nicol, Assistant Inspector

Karen joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in 2007.  She has worked in the Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lanarkshire offices and has undertaken a variety of different roles, most recently Solemn Legal Manager within the National High Court unit.

Karen joined the IPS in July 2019 on secondment from COPFS.


Tel: 0141 420 0378

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland
Legal House 2nd Floor
101 Gorbals Street
Glasgow G5 9DW

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland