Securing Justice For The People Of Scotland
We play a pivotal role in the justice system, working with others to make Scotland safer from crime, disorder and danger. The public interest is at the heart of all we do as independent prosecutors. We take into account the diverse needs of victims, witnesses, communities and the rights of those accused of crime.
Our workload has been increasing over recent years, with reports received increasing by 5% since 2009-2010 to 303,221. The nature of the cases being reported to us has changed, with our receiving more complex cases, such as sexual offences cases, which require more investigation and more resources to prosecute than other types of cases. This trend is shown by the increased numbers of cases going to trial. Our response to this has been to enhance the prosecution of cases by the introduction of specialist prosecutors and specialist investigation units and we will continue to consider whether this can be developed further. Currently we have units which specialise in appeals, cold cases, economic crime, confiscation of the proceeds of crime, deaths that need further explanation, domestic abuse; environmental and wildlife law, health and safety matters, international cases, serious and organised crime and sexual crimes.
The world in which we operate is changing. Criminal justice will be reformed in the coming years as recommendations are implemented from the reviews by Lord Carloway and Sheriff Principal Bowen, together with the advent of the Victims & Witnesses Act and the new court structures being introduced by the Scottish Court Service. All these reforms, together with the Scottish Government's Making Justice Work Programme, the Justice Strategy for Scotland, the Justice Digital Strategy and the Scottish Justice Quality Framework, will have significant implications for how we go about our business. In addition, public sector funding is under severe pressure and this is likely to continue into the future.
The Law Officers' priorities over the period of this plan are to contribute to improved public safety, reduced individual harm and enhanced economic and environmental well-being, in line with the over-arching Justice Vision of contributing positively to a flourishing Scotland, helping to create an inclusive and respectful society in which all people and communities live in safety and security with individual and collective rights being supported and disputes resolved fairly and swiftly.
This includes tackling inequality and protecting human rights. Operational priorities make it clear that prosecutors are targeting hate crime, domestic abuse, stalking and sexual offending, all of which involve significant equalities issues for those who have protected characteristics across all sections of society.
And we are helping families of victims obtain justice by pursuing so-called "cold cases" - historic unsolved homicides - and taking advantage of the ability to prosecute cases using the double jeopardy legislation.
Given the context described above, we need to continue our transformation programme if we are going to maintain delivery of a high quality prosecution service. In making best use of digital technologies we will continue to ensure compliance with legislative and information assurance requirements governing the management, use and sharing of data and with our records management plan developed under the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. In addition, we need to ensure that our policies and practices allow us to keep abreast of changing patterns of criminal behaviour.
To deliver our objectives successfully we will be a Service that:
- develops highly capable, skilled and specialist staff at all levels who are deployed appropriately
- delivers casework supported by effective quality standards and consistent operating method.
- works efficiently, supported by enhanced systems, structures and processes, making best use of digital technologies, to improve the way we operate
- disrupts and deters criminal activity by denying serious and organised crime groups the profits of crime.
And which observes and seeks to promote our core values of:
- being professional: working with pride, always acting with integrity and taking personal responsibility to provide high standards of service
- showing respect: being open and sensitive to the needs and ideas of others, treating people fairly and welcoming diversity.