While the depth and focus of inspections carried out can vary, our methods of inspection usually include:

  • Close analysis of relevant/pertinent documentation including for example business plans, casework performance reports, staff surveys, unsuccessful casework outcomes and complaints logs
  • Examining and evaluating case files, ranging from ‘volume’ crime to those of a serious or sensitive nature e.g. involving homicide, rape, racially motivated offences, child abuse or domestic abuse
  • Conducting interviews with managers and staff of the inspected organisation and gathering views of staff and external key representatives, including the judiciary, courts, police and defence representatives
  • Observing working practices in offices and how cases are prosecuted in courts

The work of HMCPSI is varied so each inspection process begins with a planning exercise, which sets out what is going to be looked at, how it is going to be done and the resources required.

One of the aspects looked at is whether the proposed inspection should be carried out solely by HMCPSI, or in collaboration with another inspectorate. A key factor in this is decision is whether working together will produce a more rounded examination of issues that cut across the system and enables HMCPSI to achieve more than if just one inspectorate acted alone.

Completed inspection reports, where appropriate, identify good practice for wider application. HMCPSI defines good practice as: “An aspect of performance or activity which demonstrates an innovative or creative approach, that leads to a positive change, improved quality, better performance or is value for money”.

Reports also identify issues to address or make recommendations for the inspected organisation and strengths. We aim to make all our issues to address or recommendations:

  • Clear and precise
  • Capable of being assessed in any future follow-up inspections
  • Aimed at improving performance, while ensuring the costs of implementing any recommendations are proportionate to the outcome

The Inspectorate’s primary function is to promote the effectiveness, efficiency and value for money of those organisations inspected and in doing so, enhance the quality of justice. Throughout all of HMCPSI’s inspection work, the organisation not only seeks continuous improvement, it also demonstrates integrity, objectivity and professionalism at all times. All aspects of work and findings are based on information that has been thoroughly researched, verified and evaluated according to consistent standards and criteria.

HMCPSI follows the ten principles of inspection as set out in the government’s policy on inspection of public services (July 2003). In addition to these principles, we try to minimise the burden of inspection on those inspected. We aim to be open about our practices and procedures and ensure that all aspects of our work are free from bias and discrimination. We welcome feedback from anyone about the way we work.