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Publication - Report

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: annual report 2016-2017

Published: 15 Dec 2017

The 2016-2017 annual report of the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland.

18 page PDF


18 page PDF


Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland: annual report 2016-2017
Chapter 1 – About Us

18 page PDF


Chapter 1 – About Us

1. 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.


2. 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.


3. The core values of the Inspectorate are:

Independence to provide impartial and objective scrutiny of the service provided by COPFS
Professionalism to undertake inspections with integrity, rigour, competency and consistency
Service to provide a service that enhances public confidence in the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland


4. 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. We carry out Equality Impact Assessments, focusing on the potential impact of our work on those with protected characteristics.

Our Approach

5. 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.

6. 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).

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

Thematic Reviews

8. 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

9. 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

10. We will continue to review the effectiveness and efficiency of the new functional model of working, recently introduced across COPFS. This was a feature of our recent inspection into the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes.

Collaborative Inspections

11. 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.

Engagement between IPS and other Prosecutorial Systems

Visit of Chinese Prosecutors

12. This year, IPS was pleased to welcome two delegations of prosecutors from the People's Republic of China, one from Shanxi Province and one from Heibei Province. This provided an opportunity to promote the vision and values of the Inspectorate, explain the role and function of the Inspectorate and how we undertake inspections. It also enhanced our knowledge of the system of prosecution in the People's Republic of China. There was an interesting correlation with both Scotland and China adopting a more specialised approach to more serious and complex areas of law.

International Association of Prosecutors ( IAP)

13. Established in 1995, the International Association of Prosecutors is the first and only worldwide organisation of prosecutors, representing over 300,000 prosecutors from over 176 different countries and territories. The main impetus for its formation was the rapid growth in serious transnational crime and the need to meet the challenges this presents through greater international cooperation, to enhance the speed and efficiency in mutual legal assistance and other international cooperative measures.

14. The IAP's annual conference and general meeting provides an opportunity for prosecutors to share and gather knowledge, experience and best practices and to assist in combating the most serious crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking and other internet related organised crimes.

15. This year, the 22nd Annual Conference and General Meeting of the IAP was held in Beijing, China. The Assistant Inspector attended as a representative of IPS. The theme "Prosecution in the Public Interest – Facing the Challenges and Opportunities in Changing Societies" was relevant and prompted much discussion on subjects as varied as "the role of corporations in human trafficking", "whether prosecutors could be replaced by artificial intelligence?" and "radicalisation and subcultures in the big cities". The conference provided a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas on the challenges prosecutors face in an ever increasing digitalised world and the potential to use technological solutions to improve collaboration and efficiency.