Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland annual report 2015-2016

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's annual report for 2015 to 2016.

Chapter 1: About Us

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland ( IPS) was established in 2003 and placed on a statutory footing in 2007 by the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007. The Act requires the Inspector "acting independently of any other person" to secure the inspection of the operation of COPFS and make recommendations that will contribute to the improvement of COPFS and enhance public confidence. It provides that the Lord Advocate may require the Inspector to submit a report on any particular matter connected with the operation of the Service.


The Inspectorate's vision is to enhance the effectiveness of and to promote excellence in the prosecution service in Scotland through professional and independent inspection and evaluation.


The core values of the Inspectorate are:

Independence - to provide impartial and objective advice and support.

Professionalism - to undertake inspections with integrity, rigour, competency and consistency.


The Inspectorate is committed to promoting equality and diversity. To this end we consider any impact our inspections and recommendations may have on individuals, groups and communities. In particular, we carry out Equality Impact Assessments, focusing on the potential impact of our work on those with protected characteristics. [3] The Inspectorate attends the COPFS Equality Advisory Group ( EAG) as an observer. The EAG was established in 2003 and consists of COPFS staff and external members with a remit "to provide independent and informed advice to COPFS in relation to the impact of existing and future policies and practices on diversity and the promotion of equality and fairness in service delivery and employment".

Our Approach

Our approach to inspection is to encourage an inclusive and participative process designed to secure improvement across the system, acting as an impartial and professional 'critical friend'. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, it is important to highlight and promote examples of good practice, so that they can be adopted elsewhere.

It is important that the work of the Inspectorate is relevant to the issues impacting on our communities. In common with other inspectorates, IPS inspection activity has evolved to developing programmes aiming inspection resource where risks to services are greater using sector risk profiles (from inspections) and sector intelligence (such as performance data and stakeholder feedback).

There are a number of different types of inspection work that can be undertaken by the Inspectorate. These include:

Thematic Reviews

We will continue to use thematic reviews which look holistically at services end to end. These can be focused on specific types of case work or business approaches. We will highlight good practice and make recommendations designed to drive improvement and enhance quality.

Follow-up Reports

The main way in which inspectorates have impact is through their published reports and recommendations. For maximum impact and value from inspection findings, a robust follow-up process is a critical part of an effective inspection regime. Since 2014, the Inspectorate has embarked on a rolling programme of follow-up reports to monitor the progress of COPFS implementation of our recommendations and to evaluate the effectiveness and outcomes of measures implemented. Follow-up reports will continue to form part of our inspection cycle.

Functional Inspections

We will review the effectiveness and efficiency of the new functional model of working, recently introduced across COPFS.

Collaborative Inspection

It is recognised that some issues are best addressed by a multi-agency or partnership approach. IPS has previously conducted joint inspections with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland ( HMICS). The Inspectorate also liaises with Audit Scotland and the other inspection bodies within the criminal justice system to ensure there is no duplication of work and that inspection work is undertaken in a collaborative and complementary way.

This year IPS worked with HMICS to consider the possibility of a joint collaborative inspection on how offenders with mental health problems are dealt with in the criminal justice system. Recognising that a significant percentage of offenders have mental health problems, there would be benefit in exploring themes such as information sharing, the use of early interventions and diversions, and to identify any gaps in service provision, examples of best practice and what achieves the best outcomes.

Due to difficulties in identifying a cohort of persons with mental health problems that could be tracked throughout the criminal justice system, we have concluded that it is not feasible to conduct a joint inspection at this time. We have, however, identified what would be required to enable such an inspection to take place and it is intended that this work will be re-visited as part of IPS' future work programme.


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