Thursday 14 January 2016

The Crown Office RIU Scam

If you have a complaint about the Crown office, you complain to a body known as the Response & Information Unit (the RIU). The unit was specially set up to investigate in to complaints made against the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

Recently the Independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland have criticised the Response & Information Unit (RIU) over the unnecessary amount of confusing legal jargon they use when responding to members of the public who submit complaints to them.

HM Chief Inspector Michelle Macleod has made 15 recommendations for improvement, the main one being the 'overly formal and jargonistic terminology' the Response & Information Unit like to use.

Despite Ms Macleod's recommendations I can assure you that nothing will change.

Nothing at all.

Because I have had a great deal of personal experience with the Response & Information Unit - and my first-hand experiences of dealing with them have been as enlightening as they have been alarming.

Take a look at the letterhead below. It's from the Response and Information Unit (RIU) about a complaint I made to them about the Crown office:

Do you see the Response and Information Unit (RIU) logo and letterhead?

No, neither do I.

That's because the letterhead in the pic above shows it to be from the 'Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service', not the Response & Information Unit (RIU).


Because the RIU is the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

They are one and the same.

So the first thing we discover is that the Response & Information Unit (RIU) is actually just the Crown office themselves - it's not a separate independent investigatory body who will somehow investigate in to complaints and wrong doing and hold the Crown office to account.

The use of the title 'Response & Information Unit' (or RIU for short) is an illusion, designed to deceive you in to thinking that they are some sort of separate independent body set up to investigate the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

They are not.

When you complain to the RIU, you're complaining to the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

That's right folks, if you're not happy with the Crown complain to the Crown office.

See where this is going now?

So no matter who's desk your complaint happens to land on at the RIU, you're merely complaining to them about their own friends and colleagues.

Not exactly impartial eh?

And from my experiences of this motley crew, you can rest assured they'll pull out all the stops to dismiss your complaint.

Every complaint is dealt with from the same angle by the RIU - they find a way to dismiss your complaint. Absolutely anything will do, no matter how insignificant. The smallest 'get-out' or the teeniest loophole is all they need and they'll use it as an excuse to dismiss you and your complaint.

If they can't find a way to dismiss your complaint, it's still not a problem - they simply tell you that they don't consider it to be 'in the public interest' to pursue your complaint. Put simply, you've got a legitimate complaint but they've decided to do nothing about it. And there's nothing you can do about it.

It's also worth noting that it is the Crown office themselves who decide what they think is 'in the public interest'. A vague woolly phrase and decidedly dodgy get-out clause if ever there was one.

But sadly that's what happens when organisations investigate themselves.

RIU Dirty Trick 1
Of course, the dismissal of you and your complaint is assuming you actually manage to get a complaint to RIU/Crown office in the first place. Because the RIU/Crown office's first dirty trick is to claim they didn't receive your complaint.

That happened to me - twice.

Twice they 'lost' my complaint despite me submitting it via their online form on their website. I even got an auto-reply from them proving it had been received, yet they still claimed they didn't receive it. Oh dear. Liar liar pants on fire Mr Procurator Fiscal.

And this happened not long after Police Scotland (well known cronies and co-conspirators of the Crown office) had already faced unparalleled criticism for failures in their communications systems over the M9 debacle.

So I took it to the Scottish Parliament.

But, surprise surprise, the RIU/Crown office told the three MSP's who raised this issue on my behalf that there were no problems with their communications systems and no other member of the public had reported any problems. They assured the MSP's that no other member of the public's communications had been 'lost'.

Just mine then? I was unlucky eh? Twice?

Yeah right.

You couldn't make it up as they say.

RIU Dirty Trick 2
The RIU/Crown office's next dirty trick is to put a wee reminder in their diary to send you a 'holding' notice every 20 days - a wee message saying 'you're enquiry is important to us' and 'we're still investigating' etc, that kind of thing.

It's complete rubbish of course. They just drag things out to make it look like they're taking time to investigate and to make it look like they're being thorough. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In reality they are doing absolutely nothing except sitting back and passing time. The RIU/Crown office realise that there is always a possibility that they may be called upon by the SPSO (the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman) at some point in the future to give an account of how they handled the complaint . The passage of time before giving a 'final response' is designed to give the SPSO (and you) the illusion that your complaint was given a full and thorough investigation. It never was.

Sneaky eh?

After they've kept you hanging on a string for months, their 'final response' is always the same:

'Your complaint has not been upheld'.

You see, if you decide to go a step further and complain to the SPSO, the RIU/Crown office know that the SPSO cannot look at your actual complaint - only whether the RIU/Crown office went through the proper complaints procedure. The decision the RIU/Crown office took to dismiss your complaint still stands no matter what the SPSO findings are.

A chocolate fireguard if ever there was one.

The RIU/Crown office know exactly how all of this operates and that's why they make sure they've ticked every box and completed every administrative procedure expected of them - they protect themselves just in case there's any future SPSO investigation.

All this is done well before they tell you, the complainer, to take a hike.

Put simply, the Crown cover their own backside.

The SPSO have no way of knowing that no real investigations ever actually took place...and that's the way the Crown office like it.

The most time the RIU/Crown office ever spend on your complaint is writing to you to tell you they are not upholding it. When you complain about the Crown office they work from the opposite direction you'd expect. They start at the end (i.e. they dismiss your complaint) and then work their way back to justify their decision and cover themselves.

The 'final response' you get from them was always going to be 'your complaint has not been upheld'. It was all decided from the word go.

That's how it works.

RIU Dirty Trick 3
The RIU/Crown office's final dirty trick is to fill their correspondence - especially the 'final response' to you - with what the Independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland have called 'impenetrable jargon'. It is designed to hide the fact that they've done nothing.

This last dirty trick is the one the Independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland have recently criticised them about. While it is certainly a positive step that they've pulled the Crown office up for this particular dirty trick, sadly they've completely missed all the others.

The Independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland have failed to see that the RIU consists of nothing more than a bunch of rogue Crown office employees who exist solely to dismiss complaints and deflect criticism away from their fellow cronies in the Crown office.

The Independent Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland don't seem to understand that the whole point of the RIU/Crown office's use of legal jargon is to purposely leave members of the public confused. They do not want to provide responses in 'plain English' because members of the public would then understand the RIU/Crown office responses - and realise that there is no substance to them.

Jargon-free communications would alert the public to the fact that their complaint was never actually investigated.

And the Crown office don't want that.

The Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service specialise in prosecuting the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. Visit any Sheriff court in Scotland any day of the week and take a look at the people in the dock and the ones in the public gallery waiting for their case to be called.

You'll notice immediately that they are all from the poorest and most deprived areas of our country with the poorest education.

To the Crown office, poor and vulnerable people are like low hanging fruit - ripe for the picking.

Poor, vulnerable, and uneducated people make for easy prosecutions - and Crown office Procurator Fiscals are lazy.

It's the perfect combination.

The Crown office regularly prosecute cases against people they know to be innocent. They know that on some occasions the court will find a few of these innocent people not-guilty and some of these poor and vulnerable innocent people they tried but failed to stitch up may take things further and try to hold the Crown office accountable afterwards by complaining to the RIU.

So they make sure the RIU has all the ammunition necessary to fob the complainer off using every dirty trick in the book. And it always ends with their bog-standard jargon-laden 'final response' letter telling the complainer that their complaint is not being upheld.

It's a win-win situation for the corrupt Crown office. A successful conviction, even against an innocent person, is still a successful conviction - it achieves targets and makes their figures look good. Conversely, a failed conviction against an innocent person which ends up in a complaint being made against the Crown office will never be upheld by the RIU. Either way they can't lose.

It's not right and it's not justice.

It ain't pretty but that's how it works.

And that's how the corrupt crew at the Crown office want it to continue to work, thank you very much.

If it didn't, heaven forbid innocent members of the public - especially the poorest and most vulnerable in our society - would actually get justice.

And the Crown office don't want that.

That just wouldn't do would it?