News & what's on - Written by on Monday, November 26, 2012 1:40 - 0 Comments

Report identifies 8 things the SFO should do better – offers (some) praise too

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In his open letter and introduction to the report following the inspection by HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate of the Serious Fraud Office, Michael Fuller (pictured) QPM, BA, MBA, LLM, Hon LLD and HM Chief Inspector said:

“At present, the SFO carries out some of its casework to a high standard, but there is clear room for improvement. This is borne out not only through our inspection findings, but also in the views of the many stakeholders consulted, whose opinions are summarized throughout the text of the report…”

Some of the headlines last week reporting the publication of the report made less positive reading!

The report included the following eight recommendations:

1. The SFO needs to review and update its intelligence function to ensure that it has effective means of capturing, collating, and analysing the intelligence it receives. It should adopt the national intelligence model.

2. The SFO should review its case acceptance process, and look into whether there is a continuing need for acceptance criteria, to ensure that the right cases are accepted to reflect the Corporate Strategy.

3. The SFO needs to improve the methods by which it assesses the skills, specialism and level of staff commitment required for individual cases, so that it can ensure case investigation and prosecution teams are properly resourced.

4. The SFO needs to standardise, streamline, and mandate its casework management processes, including records management structures/templates, and quality assurance.

5. The SFO needs to improve the quality of its investigation work by training staff better in basic investigative technique, and providing better resource levels at the investigation stage.

6. The SFO should review and update its disclosure guidance, design and mandate updated schedule templates, and ensure that all casework staff are trained accordingly.

7. The SFO needs to design and document a transparent process for deciding to pursue civil recovery, and negotiating/agreeing any consentorder.

8. The SFO should finalise and implement existing plans for intensive training programmes for casework staff.

Mr. Green, speaking before the Justice Committee about the report commented:

“it would be inappropriate for me to report to the Committee now about the contents of a report to the Attorney, which he will, I am sure, comment on in the right place at the right time. I can, however, say this. We co-operated fully with the chief inspector. We welcomed the inspection. I find the report extremely helpful as a management tool. I can also say—I hope without appearing remotely smug, because I am not—that almost everything, if not everything, that has been recommended is already observed, and has been taken on board and in hand as a result of our own examination of the SFO.”

Opinion

The new Director has effected sweeping reforms since his appointment and no doubt as Mr. Green indicated before the Justice Committee almost everything that has been recommended is either already observed or in hand.  It is essential that the SFO is a respected crime fighting organisation and in the words of Mr. Fuller:

“…much needs to be addressed if the SFO is to become a respected crime fighting organisation which is the envy of the world. The new Director recognises this and is fully committed to driving improvement.”

The new SFO Director, who means business, has invited a re-inspection within the next two years to assess progress against the recommendations made in the report.  This will be an early acid test of the work Mr. Green is now doing.

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