Turner Access Higher Safety Total Access
Total Access Ethentic Chipmunk Data
Chipmunk Data Turner Access Ethentic

SCOTLAND H&S PROSECUTION SYSTEM UNDER SCRUTINY

Major concern over excessive delay in concluding prosecution cases

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is the sole prosecuting authority in Scotland and is also responsible for investigating sudden deaths and complaints against the police which are of a criminal nature.

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland (IPS) is the independent inspectorate for the COPFS and all IPS reports are be published. It has been reported by The New Scotsman that IPS Chief inspector Joe O’Donnell said of the latest report:

“We found that the cases disposed of were of high quality, but our concern was the length of time taken to conclude them. Our recommendations, therefore, focus on ways to speed up the process.”

Laura Cameron, of lawyers Pinsent Masons told the NS:

“It is a traumatic experience for surviving victims, their families and witnesses who are caught up in a health and safety incident, and to have a case hanging over them for years adds to their stress.”

The Crown Office said progress is being made and that significant enhancements have been made in the prosecution of health and safety cases since the division was established in 2009. 

Work done to a high standard but prosecutions ‘taking years’

The IPS report on the Health and Safety Division includes the following findings (bolding not in report):

  1.  The selection of the Health and Safety Division as a topic for inspection was made in the context of growing specialism within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (especially following the move to Federation working with function based work rather than geographical responsibility).
  2. Scotland’s current and previous Law Officers have been active in promoting greater specialisation and the Health and Safety Division seemed a suitable candidate to be made into a specialist unit. Accordingly the specialist Health and Safety Division was established in 2009. This mirrored greater specialisation on the part of defence lawyers especially in this field.
  3. The major conclusion is that the work completed by the division is done to a high standard and favourably commented on by many contributors to our report. The existence of the unit made for early meaningful discussions and good liaison with Health and Safety Executive and other reporting agencies.
  4. The apparent focus of the division is to obtain pleas of guilty, produce agreed narratives of events for court (commented favourably on by various sheriffs to whom we spoke) and thus potentially save court time. This also has the benefit of saving time and inconvenience to witnesses.
  5. The downside of this policy was, however, that few cases went to trial and the development of the law in Scotland in this area (and the experience of those in the unit) suffered as a result. The presumption appears to be to initially regard cases as suitable only of proceeding on indictment and we felt there could be better targeting of the simpler cases which could proceed in the summary courts rather than join a queue. An effective ‘triage’ system would be of benefit.
  6. Our major concern was the delay in concluding cases, several of which were several years old and the ‘time to clear’ figure of current work was increasing rather than decreasing. There has been growing public concern about delays in this field.
  7. We found there was some confusion about the type of case the new Health and Safety Division would take on board with potential confusing overlap with in particular the recently created Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit.
  8. Additionally the IT system was not configured to ‘direct’ health and safety cases to the unit and management information was sketchy. All of this contributed to lack of clarity, double handling and our biggest concern – delay in processing the cases. The normal IT and management tracking devices were largely absent with too much reliance on internal spreadsheets which were not always up to date.
  9. We also found staff turnover to be a matter of concern. This was high which we feel exacerbated the problem about delay. Many of the cases are complex and staff leaving mid-case led to inefficiency and delay as new members had to go over the same ground. Additionally the perfectly worthy attempt to create local geographical centres to deal with local cases was largely abandoned because of the need to give priority to certain types of cases irrespective of where the staff were located.
  10. We took the view (and so recommend) that greater use could be made of existing staff especially those at fairly senior grades. Increased delegation to these staff of crucial decision making would speed up the process and improve the job satisfaction of those involved. Although praise worthy in concept the need for all cases to be channelled into a single decision point inevitably led to delay and in some cases meant action could no longer be taken because of the time taken to approve of decisions.
  11. The perception of the unit by outside agencies including the Health and Safety Executive is generally very good. No-one doubts the commitment of those involved. However, delay was a major cause of concern for some especially victims and next of kin. The Victim Information and Advice Officer in Health and Safety Division did a very good job of keeping them informed but it was too frequently on the basis of no real progress.
  12. We make 38 recommendations mainly intended to speed up disposal of cases with better use of existing resources and with better management information and tracking.

Latest Construction Health and Safety News

MAJOR CONTRACTORS LAUNCH H&S ALERT SYSTEM

Build UK members share information for effective prevention of harm

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th July 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 19th JULY 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 19th July 2017

STRUCTURAL SAFETY BODY LATEST NEWSLETTER

SCOSS publishes reports and expert comment on a range of issues

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th July 2017

SAFE SYSTEM DEVISED BUT NOT IMPLEMENTED

Workman injured by goods falling from double-decked trailer

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 18th July 2017

PREVENTION PLANNING REQUIRED FOR FRAGILE RISK

Fall arrest safety netting not used to mitigate fall consequences

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th July 2017

MANAGEMENT OF FORMWORK NOT UP TO THE MARK

Erector fell 3m after access scaffold board failed under load

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 17th July 2017

VIBRATION UNCONTROLLED & WORKERS UNINFORMED

Engineering firm fined £120,000 over hand-arm vibration risk

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 14th July 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 12th JULY 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 12th July 2017

SCAFFOLDER WAS UNTRAINED AND UNSUPERVISED

Contractor and director failed to train injured workman to CISRC scheme

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 10th July 2017

WORKPLACE MANSLAUGHTER OUTCOMES SET TO RISE

Guidelines target gross negligence with serious disregard and cost-cutting

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th July 2017

WORKMAN BURNT CLEANING WITH FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS

Flammable substance and unprotected electrical equipment trigger flash fire

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th July 2017

PUWER FAILINGS AND INJURY END IN £1,900,000 FINE

Massive fine after workman suffers friction burns caused by conveyor

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th July 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 5th JULY 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 7th July 2017

HSE REPORTS CONSTRUCTION DEATHS AT RECORD LOW

hselogo1Fatalities decline whilst asbestos related mesothelioma deaths rise

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 5th July 2017

CURSORY AND NEGLIGENT ASSESSMENT BY DIRECTOR

Building firm owner jailed after workman died in trench collapse

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd July 2017

UPDATE – DIRECTOR AND EXCAVATOR OPERATOR JAILED

Excavation collapse dangers ignored by director and digger operator

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 3rd July 2017

HSE SAFETY ALERT: TRACK TENSIONING INCIDENT

hselogo1Workman died from hydraulic injection injury whilst tensioning track

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th June 2017

OXYGEN PIPE EXPLOSION CAUSED SEVERE BURNS

Components used containing materials unsuitable for use with oxygen

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 30th June 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 28th JUNE 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 28th June 2017

ROOF FALL CAUSES LIFE CHANGING INJURIES

Inadequate planning and absence of necessary equipment caused fall

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th June 2017

LIFT PLANNING AND CONTROL FOUND WANTING

Female building worker struck by scaffold fittings tipped from stillage

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 25th June 2017

FATALITY: CRANE COLLAPSE ON HOMES PROJECT

Two workmen die in crane collapse in Crewe

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 23rd June 2017

BUILD UK EXPLAINS PROJECT H&S TRAINING STANDARD

UK contractors clarify skill cards needed on CDM 2015 projects

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 21st June 2017

HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 21 JUNE 2017

hselogo1Prosecutions and enforcement notices weekly update and analysis

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 21st June 2017

CIVILS FIRMS PAYS PRICE OVER PUBLIC DANGER

Fencing wire struck member of public relaxing in own garden

Read the rest of this article »

Posted on 20th June 2017
Turner Access Chipmunk Data
Total Access Ethentic
Higher Safety Turner Access