This is the first report of the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland. The creation of an independent inspectorate was the first recommendation of Dr Raj Jandoo in his report into the liaison arrangements between the Police, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the family of the deceased Surjit Singh Chhokar which was laid before the Scottish Parliament in October 2001. The Chhokar case had raised serious questions about how the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service had handled the prosecution.
The Lord Advocate accepted this recommendation and the new Independent Inspectorate was launched in December 2003. It is an indication of how seriously Crown Office took the issues raised in the Chhokar case that the now Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, QC commissioned a report in May 2000 by the then Regional Fiscal at Aberdeen, now Solicitor-General for Scotland Mrs Elish Angiolini, QC, into liaison with the family of the deceased and then on 29 November 2000 announced 2 independent inquiries - the inquiry by Dr Raj Jandoo into liaison arrangements in the case and Sir Anthony Campbell's report into prosecutorial decisions.
Prior to the creation of the independent Inspectorate the Crown Office had employed a number of different procedures to examine working practices across the Service. The then Management Services Group produced a number of office reviews, the focus of these reviews being to ensure the efficient deployment of resources. These reports were delivered to the Crown Agent.
There then followed a concern that the focus of such reviews should shift towards examining the quality of decision-making and consequently a Quality and Practice Review Unit was set up in 1999 and the remit of this unit included the inspection of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and to report to the Crown Agent on
- the quality of professional practice including decision-making and processes;
- identifying and promoting good practice;
- making recommendations about improving practice; and
- the development of performance indicators with respect to quality.
This Unit conducted a number of office reviews and produced a number of thematic reports. It was not the practice to routinely publish these reports.
Dr Jandoo's first recommendation was
"An inspectorate of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service should be established, headed by an independent Inspector. The Crown Office Quality and Practice Review Unit should be reinforced and reconstituted as a support unit to the Inspectorate. The Inspectorate's reports, like those of other Inspectorates, should be made public."
Dr Jandoo went on to say that the Crown Office had for too long been perceived as a faceless organisation, arrogant, secretive and accountable to no one. The Inspectorate would be a means to introduce a measure of accountability which is essential for public confidence.
The Lord Advocate accepted this (and Dr Jandoo's other recommendations) and a project team was created to establish the Inspectorate. A consultation document was prepared and published and following analysis of the feedback the Inspectorate was set up on 31 December 2003. The first Chief Inspector was appointed in August 2004.
Dr Jandoo's second recommendation was that "the Crown Office Inspectorate should conduct a thematic inspection of the Service's response on race matters. The inspection methodology should be thorough, it should not be limited to a paper exercise and should include input from external sources".
This thematic report is in implementation of that second recommendation. Being a thematic report the intention is to present a national picture about the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's response on race issues. It is particularly appropriate that this should be the first work of the new Inspectorate given that its origin lay in the Jandoo report into the tragic case of Surjit Singh Chhokar. This review reflects the high profile which race and equality issues have in the criminal justice system. Although race crime is an important part of that profile this report is not limited to race crime but includes employment practices and the efforts made to develop arrangements for community engagement. It therefore attempts to take a holistic view of the whole operation of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service including its strategic approach. Measuring the Department's compliance with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 is a feature of the review.
To honour the commitment that the methodology should be thorough and not limited to a paper exercise and include input from external sources a remit, methodology and work programme was devised and the advice of the Commission for Racial Equality taken.
A series of issues were identified including
1. The adequacy of service delivery to minority ethnic users, including
- an evaluation of the effectiveness and degree of compliance with current prosecution policy in respect of crimes with a racial dimension;
- an assessment of levels of compliance with the Lord Advocate's Guidelines to Chief Constables in relation to the investigation and reporting of racist crime, the assessment of language needs and cultural sensitivities and preparation of death reports and associated crime reports;
- an assessment of present arrangements for the provision of translation and interpreting services to all victims, next of kin and witnesses;
- a review of the adequacy of the current arrangements for the provision of information, support, advice and assistance to all victims and witnesses from a minority ethnic background.
2. An assessment of recruitment and employment issues within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, including
- a review of current recruitment initiatives to raise the profile of the organisation within the minority ethnic community and an evaluation of their success in seeking to increase the proportion of staff within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service from a minority ethnic background;
- an evaluation of training initiatives within the organisation and their success in raising awareness amongst staff of race and equality issues and in modifying current practice;
- a study of current attitudes amongst staff towards equality issues and of staff perceptions in this area.
3. An evaluation of the efforts made by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to reach out to minority ethnic communities in Scotland and to reflect their concerns in forming prosecution policy.
4. An evaluation of the steps taken by the Department to comply with the duties imposed upon it by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and in particular the duty to promote good race relations.
Method of Working
To assist in the preparation of the report a Reference Group was created consisting of persons and organisations with expertise in the field. The membership list is contained in Appendix A.
I would like to record my gratitude to the members of the Reference Group for the unstinting support and advice they gave to the Inspectorate Team and without whose assistance this report would not have been possible. The conclusions, recommendations etc remain, however, that of the Inspectorate.
Information was gathered initially from the considerable volume of policy and other documents created by the Department.
Interviews were held on a frequent basis with members of the Crown Office Race (now Diversity) Team and again I would like to record my thanks to those members of staff who dealt patiently and courteously with all our requests despite heavy demands on their time.
Although every effort was made to adopt scientific approaches to the work including the design of questionnaires inevitably there were limitations to the methodology. However, the approach always was that no conclusion or recommendation would be made without being based on evidence, this being in line with the philosophy of all inspectorates.
A large number of individual interviews took place with the Solicitor General, members of the Service and various outsiders.
A considerable number of meetings were held with groups including Racial Equality Councils, religious groups and other organisations with a strong interest in the subject matter. A list of these is contained in Appendix B.
Questionnaires were used to a considerable extent especially in relation to interpreters. Again my thanks go to the various firms who agreed to send out questionnaires to interpreters on our behalf.
Questionnaires were also used in an effort to reach users of the services of the West of Scotland Racial Equality Council (WSREC) and my thanks go to the management of WSREC for facilitating this contact.
The philosophy was to target people who had by definition sought assistance with problems in the race arena.
Other Racial Equality Councils throughout the country also gave us their time and arranged focus meetings for us. A sub-group of the Inspectorate and Reference Group travelled to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Ayrshire to try to obtain a nationwide picture of the issues involved. The Inspectorate Team was conscious that the problems in rural areas might be quite different from urban areas.
Of particular importance was interviews held in courts in different parts of the country where a witness or victim who required the services of an interpreter was cited. This gave invaluable first hand insight into the experiences of individual victims and witnesses and also the experience of the interpreters involved. Many of the problems encountered can only be resolved by a joined up, cross cutting approach and such an approach was already being adopted by various agencies in the criminal justice system and is referred to in the Chapter on Interpreters.
In an attempt to meet as wide an audience as possible a radio interview was given by the Chief Inspector and a member of the Reference Group in Glasgow in the form of a phone in programme on a minority ethnic radio station.
On the staff front minority ethnic staff were invited to contact the Inspectorate with their views. Questionnaires were prepared for this purpose, advertised on the Departmental Intranet and sent to minority ethnic staff.
Dr Jandoo's criticisms were taken as a starting point and an assessment made of the extent to which the Department had responded and these are contained in the various chapters of the report.
Dr Jandoo's 8 th recommendation was that the Crown Office Inspectorate should conduct a thematic inspection of the Service's response on victim and witness issues (including the operation of the Victim Information and Advice Division). This will be the second work of the Inspectorate to be published next year.
Some of Dr Jandoo's recommendations fall more easily to be examined in the wider context of victims and witnesses generally including the treatment of next of kin and although we have touched on some of these in this report, including a particular Fatal Accident Inquiry and a particular murder, they will be dealt with in more detail in our second report.
Finally an overview was attempted in relation to the Department's compliance with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and the creation of the Race Equality Scheme and Race Equality Action Plan and also performance against the Jandoo Action Plan created by the Department following Dr Jandoo's report.
The Inspectorate is committed in line with current thinking on inspection to seek to achieve improvements, to identify good practice and to take a consumer's perspective on service delivery.
Joseph T O'Donnell