HM Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: guide

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

His 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 and vice chair of 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.

Liz Ross, Assistant Inspector

Liz joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in 2000, having previously worked as a Criminal Defence solicitor. She obtained her Criminal Rights of Audience in 2005 and thereafter prosecuted in the High Court as a Solicitor Advocate Depute.

Prior to joining the Inspectorate Liz has worked as a Senior Depute in the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit and as the Solemn Legal Manager in the Sheriff and Jury unit in Airdrie/Lanark.

Liz graduated in Scots law from Aberdeen University and has a keen interest in advocacy. She is NITA trained and for many years trained COPFS employees and also diploma law students at Strathclyde University in the art of criminal advocacy.

Liz joined IPS in January 2021 on secondment from COPFS.

Iain Gray, Legal Inspector

Iain joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in 2012 as a Trainee working initially in Crown Office in Edinburgh, then EUROJUST in the Hague, and latterly in the Glasgow and Ayr Procurator Fiscal Offices. Following his Traineeship Iain worked as a Procurator Fiscal Depute in both Summary and Sheriff & Jury units in Ayr and Kilmarnock. Prior to joining the Inspectorate Iain was in the Road Traffic Fatalities Investigation Unit which involved investigating and prosecuting ‘death by driving’ cases across Scotland and he was based in Inverness as a Senior Procurator Fiscal Depute. Iain graduated in Scots law and obtained his Diploma in Professional Legal Practice both from the University of Glasgow and has a keen interest in working with a number of charities that tackle issues of injustice, including International Justice Mission, who he continues to volunteer with in his spare time. 
Iain joined IPS in March 2021 on secondment from COPFS.

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.

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: framework


Tel: 0300 020 1185

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

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland

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