AN INTERNAL SURVEY conducted by the Scottish Court Service claims the majority of judges, sheriffs & justices of the peace (JPs) are “satisfied with the services & support they receive from the staff of the Scottish Court Service. The ‘results’ of the survey, released prior to the expected announcement of the appointment of a new Lord President later this week, claims the figures of judicial satisfaction, catalogued at 79% are in line with similar results of surveys of other court users, including victims, witnesses and legal professionals who, the SCS claim gave similar tales of satisfaction with Scotland's courts.
However, legal insiders have pointed out the survey falls far short of portraying the Scottish Court Service as a capable body, given the extensive delays faced by many litigants in Scotland’s court system and the appalling treatment of party litigants and other court users who either find themselves at odds with law firms in the courts, or cannot secure legal representation due to a variety of reasons.
The survey results, which can be viewed online here Judicial Survey 2011 final report & Judicial Survey 2011 Executive Summary also fail to show an increasing level of criminality within the Scottish Court Service, which has been hit recently by a number of scandals. Media reports have revealed in some cases, members of staff & court officials have embezzled large sums of public money, have been found to have links to, or friendships with gangsters, and in cases currently under investigation have been found to be leaking the personal data of litigants to law firms & debt recovery firms, for financial rewards.
The release published by the Scottish Court Service :
JUDICIARY ARE SATISFIED WITH THE SUPPORT PROVIDED BY SCOTTISH COURT SERVICE
The majority of judges, sheriffs and justices of the peace who took part in a survey were satisfied with the services and support they receive from the Scottish Court Service (SCS).
The SCS provides the staff, buildings, IT and other services to support the work of Scotland’s courts and independent judiciary. In the first such survey of its kind, the SCS asked all permanent, part-time and lay judiciary for their views about these services.
Of the 181 judiciary who responded, 79% were satisfied overall with the SCS. 90% considered the technical competence of court staff to be very or fairly good. The majority were also satisfied with court accommodation; access to legal publications and communications from the SCS. Additional IT support was identified as a priority for further improvement.
The overall outcome of the survey of judiciary is consistent with the findings of a recent separate survey of other court users, including victims, witnesses and legal professionals. This showed 83% were satisfied overall with the SCS.
Eleanor Emberson, SCS Chief Executive said: “I am very grateful to members of the judiciary for taking time to complete this survey. We undertake regular surveys of court users, but this is our first survey of members of the judiciary. The SCS exists to support the vital work of Scotland’s courts and the judiciary in overseeing the efficient progress of both criminal and civil cases. I am pleased that a large majority of the judiciary who responded were satisfied overall with the services and facilities we provide.
Mrs Emberson continued : “I am exceptionally proud of the commitment, dedication and skills which SCS staff demonstrate. Despite budget pressures, the SCS Board, chaired by the Lord President, has continued to invest in the technical training of court staff. I am pleased that this is reflected in the survey outcome. However, we are not complacent. The survey has highlighted areas where we can improve, including ensuring greater judicial confidence in the quality of our IT support. This will be vital as we expand the use of technology to further improve the efficiency of our courts. We will agree other specific actions following from the survey in discussion with the SCS Board and judicial representatives.”
The Scottish Court Service is a non-ministerial department, established by the Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008. It is led by a corporate Board, chaired by the Lord President, Scotland’s most senior judge, and with a majority of judicial members.
The survey of views of members of the judiciary about SCS services ran from November to December 2011. The survey was administered internally by SCS staff at minimal cost. The survey questions and methodology were cleared with a judicial reference group, including a judge, sheriff, part-time sheriff and Justice of the Peace.
All survey responses were submitted in confidence. The survey sought views on the technical skills of SCS staff; court accommodation; health, safety and security; ICT; access to legal publications; communications and overall satisfaction.