Alison Di Rollo is a Senior Advocate Depute and was appointed Solicitor General in June 2016.
The Solicitor General is the deputy of the Lord Advocate. They are responsible for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, legal advice to Scottish Ministers, civil litigation, constitutional issues and appointment of Counsel.
Alison graduated with LLB and Dip LP from Glasgow University in 1983 and joined COPFS in 1985, following a legal traineeship in private practice, going on to perform front line prosecution duties in Dumfries, Edinburgh and Dunfermline and in the Policy Group at Crown Office before being appointed Deputy Head of the High Court Unit in Crown Office, and later Head of Operational Policy.
In May 2008 Alison was seconded from COPFS to take up an appointment as a Trial Advocate Depute, and since then has been prosecuting in the High Court. As well as conducting murder, rape, child abuse, robbery, drugs and firearms trials, in 2009 she assisted the then Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini QC in the prosecution of Marek Harcar for the rape and murder of Moira Jones.
In February 2010 Alison joined the Crown Office National Sexual Crimes Unit and between January 2013 and January 2015 was the Head of the Unit. From January 2015 until taking appointment as Solicitor General Alison was a Senior Advocate Depute.
David Harvie is a Solicitor Advocate and joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, following a spell in private practice, in 1996. He worked as a Procurator Fiscal Depute in Paisley until 1999, when he was seconded to the Lockerbie criminal trial team until after the trial, when, after a brief spell in Policy, he was promoted to Principal Depute, Aberdeen.
In 2001 he was seconded to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He returned to Crown Office in 2004, where he became Deputy, then Head of the National Casework Division with responsibility for Organised Crime, Financial Crime and Proceeds of Crime cases throughout Scotland.
In 2008, David was promoted to District Procurator Fiscal, Edinburgh and East Lothian.
In August 2010 he was appointed as Area Procurator Fiscal for Central.
In May 2011, David was appointed Interim Head of East Federation.
He was promoted to Director of Serious Casework and Procurator Fiscal North of Scotland in July 2011. He took up his previous post as Procurator Fiscal for the West of Scotland in April 2014.
He was promoted to Crown Agent on 4 April 2016.
James Wolffe QC is a leading Senior Counsel, and was appointed Lord Advocate in June 2016.
Her Majesty's Advocate, known as the Lord Advocate, is the chief legal officer of the Scottish Government and the Crown in Scotland for both civil and criminal matters that fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament. He or she is the chief public prosecutor for Scotland and all prosecutions on indictment are conducted by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, nominally in the Lord Advocate's name.
He became an advocate in 1992 and was First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Ministers from 2002 to 2007, the same year he was appointed Queen's Counsel. From 2007 to 2010 he served as an Advocate Depute.
Called to the bar of England and Wales in 2013, James was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates in 2014. He has extensive experience of both commercial and public law.
Tackling Transnational Crime: A Scottish Perspective, 29 January 2018
In some less serious cases, although the Procurator Fiscal may consider that it is in the public interest to take action, prosecution may not be the most appropriate course of action. In those cases there are a number of direct measures available.
As a direct measure, offenders may be:
- given a warning by the Procurator Fiscal
- given the option of paying a fine
- given the option of paying compensation
- given the option of a Fiscal Work Offer
- offered the chance of referral for specialist support or treatment.
This way, the accused does not have a criminal conviction recorded against their name, members of the public are spared the inconvenience of attending as witnesses, and courts are freed up to spend time dealing with more serious cases.
The Procurator Fiscal may decide to give the accused either a written or personal warning. Once this happens, the accused cannot be prosecuted for that offence.
The 'fixed penalty conditional offer' (fine) is an effective direct measure for less serious offences. The levels of fine are set by the Scottish Government and are currently £50, £75, £100, £150, £200, £250 and £300. This fine will be registered against the accused (and there will be no court proceedings) unless he or she gives notice that he or she refuses the offer. If challenged, the Procurator Fiscal may prosecute for the offence.
The 'compensation offer' is an effective direct measure for offences where an individual has suffered loss. Compensation may be issued in respect of monetary loss, personal loss, or alarm or distress. The maximum level of compensation that can be offered is £3,000. The level of compensation will be registered against the accused as a fine (and there would be no court proceedings) unless he or she gives notice that he or she refuses the offer. If challenged, the Procurator Fiscal may prosecute for the offence.
If, following rejection of a fixed penalty offer or compensation offer, a prosecution follows, the accused's failure to take up the offer, and its amount may be disclosed to the Court.Fixed penalty and compensation offers are not criminal convictions. However, they are recorded and can be disclosed to the court for a period of two years. Where a fixed penalty offer or compensation offer has not been rejected the Procurator Fiscal, if asked, may disclose this to any person whom he considers to have a legitimate interest in knowing the outcome of the case, for example, the victim or the media.
A Fiscal Work Offer (FWO) is a direct measure which allows the prosecutor to offer an offender the opportunity of completing a Fiscal Work Order of between 10-50 hours of unpaid work.
If the offer is rejected or the work order is not completed satisfactorily then the Procurator Fiscal may prosecute for the offence.
Fixed penalties are also offered as an alternative to prosecution for some less serious road traffic offences. In contrast to non road traffic fixed penalty offers and compensation offers, road traffic fixed penalties are only registered when they are actively accepted by the accused. If the offer is accepted and payment made, no prosecution is brought. If it is an endorsable offence penalty points are also endorsed on the accused's driving licence. Where the accused does not actively accept the fixed penalty, the Procurator Fiscal can bring the case to court as a normal prosecution.
In some areas there are schemes that allow accused to be diverted from prosecution in appropriate cases. This is called 'diversion' and involves offering the offender the option of referral to a scheme, which might involve social work, or psychiatric or psychologist support, treatment or other action. This is used where the support and treatment for the offender would be more beneficial than formal prosecution. The accused can decide not to accept the referral and the Procurator Fiscal may then prosecute the case.
In less serious cases where there is an identifiable victim, a conflict between two parties, or where the offender is able to make amends for his conduct, 'reparation and mediation' can be an effective alternative, in those areas where there is a scheme available. The accused can choose not to accept the reparation and mediation in which case the Procurator Fiscal may prosecute the case in the normal way.
Over 50 specialist reporting agencies
, other than the Police, report cases to the Procurator Fiscal each year. The types of offences reported can range from benefit fraud to pollution of drinking water, from illegal dumping of waste to infringement of trading standards. The list of reporting agencies includes bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as Local Authority departments such as Environmental Health and Trading Standards.
Although the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has historically resisted the development of specialist prosecutors, who might handle the offences reported by Specialist Reporting Agencies, on the basis that Procurators Fiscal are, by their very nature, specialists in criminal law whose knowledge and skills can be adapted for any type of prosecution, we have acknowledged that due to advances in technology and the intricacies of modern life and law, the prosecution of crime is becoming increasingly complex.
As part of our commitment to providing a consistent and high standard of service, and in line with the commitment given in A Partnership for a Better Scotland, a national network of prosecutors has been created to specialise in environmental and wildlife law.
Offences such as the pollution of rivers by raw sewage or chemical spillage can pose a real threat both to public health and to the environment but these are not cases that are dealt with every day by Procurators Fiscal and accordingly, a number of existing prosecutors have been appointed and have received specialist training with SEPA.
Similarly, a network of prosecutors has been trained in wildlife offences such as the theft of wild birds' eggs or the shooting or poisoning of protected species of birds or animals.
In establishing a network of Procurators Fiscal with expertise in the prosecution of such offences and who are able to share their experiences across the country more readily, we are helping to make sure that COPFS is equipped to conduct effective investigation and prosecution of environmental crime against a better background of understanding of the context of these offences.
Practice and procedure
Useful information before you make a comment or complaint
If you would like to make a comment or complaint about the work of COPFS, it is advisable to read the Complaints Handling Policy and Guidance below before submitting your comments or complaints.
COPFS is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland, the investigation of sudden or suspicious deaths, and the investigation of criminal complaints against the police. We are committed to providing high quality customer service.
Our purpose is to secure justice for the people of Scotland while observing our core values of being professional and showing respect.
We have Standards of Service
to support and protect victims and witnesses in the Scottish criminal justice system; to make sure they have access to the information they need; and to ensure they are treated fairly.
We value complaints and comments and use information from them to help us address dissatisfaction and where something has gone wrong, prevent the same problems from happening again.
We regard a complaint as any expression of dissatisfaction about our action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by us or on our behalf.
Anyone can make a complaint or comment on our service or work. While we will answer all aspects of dissatisfaction, only complaints which affect you directly will be considered under our Complaints Handling Procedure. If you want someone else to make a complaint to us on your behalf (such as a family member, friend, support group or legal representative) we will need your written permission. This is because we may need to disclose your personal information.
You can complain about things like:
The remedy or outcome you might want could be:
- Delays in responding to your enquiries and requests
- Failure to provide a service
- Our standard of service
- Our policy
- Treatment by or attitude of member of staff
- Our failure to follow proper procedure
- an apology
- an explanation
- a review of a decision – If you are a victim and your complaint is about a decision not to take court proceedings or a decision to stop the case once it is in court it may be dealt with under our Victims Right to Review guidance
- the return of property
There are some things we can’t deal with through our complaints handling procedure. These include:
- a routine first-time request for a service – for example a first request for information about the progress of a case
- If you want to complain about something that has happened to someone else without their permission it will not be handled through our complaints procedure.
- Sometimes people complain about their experience of the criminal justice system in general, for example, the investigation of a case by the police or things that happened in court. We can only consider feedback about the service you have received from COPFS. If it relates to another organisation or agency, such as Police Scotland, the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, or to the verdict or sentence in a case, please contact those agencies directly.
Normally, you must make your complaint within 6 months of finding out that you have reason to complain, but no longer than 12 months after the event itself.
In exceptional circumstances, we may be able to accept a complaint after the time limit. If you feel that the time limit should not apply to your complaint, please tell us why.
If your complaint relates to a current criminal case, we might not be able to respond until the end of the case – for example, until after a trial in court. This will depend on the particular nature and circumstances of the complaint. We will let you know as soon as possible if we need to put your complaint on hold until the case is finished.
If you are the victim in a case reported to us, you have a right to ask us to review a decision made on or after 1 July 2015 not to take action in the first place or to stop or discontinue a case after a case has started in court. A request for review should, where possible, be made within one month of the date you learn the decision from us. More information on how to ask for a review is available on our website.
If we can deal with your complaint as a frontline resolution we will respond within 5 days.
If your complaint cannot be resolved by frontline resolution or is complex and requires investigation we will acknowledge your contact by phone, letter or email within three working days. We aim to provide a full response within 20 working days (not including weekends and public holidays); but if that is not possible, for example, due to the enquiries we need to make to resolve your complaint, then we will keep you advised of progress.
On the very few occasions when persons complaining to COPFS act in a way which we think is unacceptable, we will consider acting under COPFS Unacceptable Actions Policy
We regularly analyse feedback from complaints and comments and see what lessons we can learn to improve our service. As part of that, we will review our policies, systems and procedures and make necessary changes, either at a local level or across the whole of COPFS.
For more information:Please see our COPFS Complaints Handling Procedure
How to make a complaint or comment about our service
- by completing the form (plain text version) in person at any Procurator Fiscal office
- by phoning our national Enquiry Point on: 0300 020 3000 (lines open Mon-Thurs: 8:30 to 17:15; Fri: 8:30 to 17:00)
- by sending the form (plain text version) in to us: Response & Information Unit, Crown Office, 25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LA
- for RNID Typetalk prefix our telephone number with 18001
- for callers with a hearing impairment text 07825 280346, letting us know if you would prefer your reply by SMS text message or email - calls will be answered in the first instance by our Enquiry Point.
Our Enquiry Point is open from 08:30 to 17:15 Monday to Thursday; and 08:30 to 17:00 on Friday.
Please note that if you contact us by telephone, we might sometimes ask you to make your complaint in writing, by email or letter. This could happen if we are unable to clarify the nature of your complaint over the telephone or if your complaint is complex.
- your full name
- your contact details
- what remedy or outcome you want
- if it relates to a case
- what, if any, is your relationship with it e.g. victim, witness, accused
- where and what happened
- when did it happen
- any COPFS, police or court reference number
- the names of any of our staff you have been in contact with
- if it relates to a review of a decision not to prosecute in a case in which you are the victim (in addition to the above):
- any new information you have
- the impact this incident had on you including any physical or financial consequences etc.
More information on your right to ask for a review is available on our website
.If it relates to a complaint about the handling of a death:
- the name of the person who has died
- the date and place the death took place.
“I am writing to complain about the decision taken by the Procurator Fiscal in the case against John Smith, who was accused of vandalising my car on DATE.
The Procurator Fiscal case reference number is YZ123456.
The case was heard in X Sheriff Court on DATE . I am not happy because…
What I would like you to do is…”
Depending on the nature and complexity of your complaint or comment it might be possible to resolve it through our ‘Frontline Resolution’ process.
This can be dealt with by any COPFS staff member. A complaint about a legal matter or a request for a review of a decision not to prosecute will not normally be dealt with by Frontline Resolution. More information on your right to ask for a review is available on our website.Frontline Resolution:
We make brief enquiries into your complaint and then contact you:
- to provide an explanation and resolution of your complaint within five working days; or
- to let you know when we anticipate we will be able to reply fully - we may ask you if we can extend this to more than five working days; or
- if your complaint relates in part to the actions of another organisation we will advise you how to complain to them.
If your complaint cannot be resolved straight away when you first contact us:
- your complaint will be passed to our Response and Information Unit (RIU), where staff are trained in handling complaints and all complaints are treated impartially
- we will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 3 working days
- where appropriate, discuss your complaint with you to understand why you remain dissatisfied and what outcome you are looking for
- give you a full response to the complaint as soon as possible and usually within 20 days
If our investigation will take longer than 20 days we will tell you and keep you updated on progress.
A review of a decision not to prosecute: If you are asking for a review of a decision not to prosecute in a case in which you are the victim, we will consider the circumstances of the case and whether the decision not to prosecute was a reasonable one. We will reply in writing advising of our decision and the matters that we took into account in considering it. More information on your right to ask for a review is available on our website.
Complaints about COPFS staff: Complaints about senior members of staff require careful handling to ensure there is no conflict of interest. When serious complaints are raised against senior staff, they will generally be handled by the Head of our Response and Information Unit in the first instance. In appropriate circumstances another senior member of staff who has no direct involvement in the complaint, will carry out an investigation.
If you are dissatisfied with how we handle your complaint you are entitled to raise that with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). The SPSO is the final stage for complaints about most organisations providing public services in Scotland. Their service is independent, free and confidential.
The SPSO cannot normally look at:
- a complaint that has not completed our complaints procedure (so please make sure it has done so before contacting the SPSO)
- events that happened, or that you became aware of, more than a year ago
- a matter that has been or is being considered in court
- it should be noted that the SPSO is the final stage for concerns about how we have handled a complaint and is not an appeal body for the decisions we have taken.
You can contact the SPSO:
4 Melville Street
Freepost (you do not need to use a stamp)
Edinburgh EH3 0BR
Freephone: 0800 377 7330
Online contact www.spso.org.uk/contact-us
Mobile site: http://m.spso.org.uk
We understand that you may be unable, or reluctant, to make a complaint yourself. We accept complaints from the representative of a person who is dissatisfied with our service. We can take complaints from a friend, relative, or an advocate, if you have given them your consent to complain for you.
You can find out about advocates in your area by contacting the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
Tel: 0131 260 5380
Fax: 0131 260 5381
For more information:
Please see our COPFS Complaints Handling Procedure
Welcome to the area of our site giving information about our roles and responsibilities.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is responsible for the prosecution of crime in Scotland, the investigation of sudden or suspicious deaths and complaints of criminal conduct by police officers on duty. We work closely with our partners in the criminal justice system to help make Scotland a safer place.
Videos: The Role of Prosecutors, including a BSL version
For further information regarding the Law Officers and Crown agent please see the Who we are page.
We hope that you will find the information useful, but if there is anything else you would like to know, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The police (or other Specialist Reporting Agencies, e.g. Customs and Excise) carry out an initial crime investigation and submit a report to the local Procurator Fiscal
The Procurator Fiscal considers this report and decides whether to take any action in relation to this case. This decision is taken in the public interest.Where there is enough evidence in the case, the Procurator Fiscal will consider a number of additional factors when deciding whether criminal proceedings should take place. These are set out in full in our Prosecution Code, but include:
- Seriousness of the offence
- Length of time since the offence took place
- Interests of the victim and other witnesses
- Age of the offender, any previous convictions and other relevant factors
- Local community interests or general public concern
- Any other factors at his discretion, according to the facts and circumstances of the case
Where a Procurator Fiscal decides to take no criminal proceedings in a case or to accept an adjusted plea of guilty, the victim can ask for an explanation of the decision and this will be provided.
It is not the policy of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to automatically inform accused persons where a decision is taken not to take court action.It is, however, open to an accused person who has been reported for alleged offences to contact the Procurator Fiscal's office, either directly or through their lawyer, to enquire as to the decision of the Procurator FiscalIn taking this decision, the Procurator Fiscal will consider if there is sufficient evidence in the caseIf there is sufficient evidence, the Procurator Fiscal will then decide what action is appropriate, eg. to prosecute, offer a direct measure (such as a fiscal fine) or to take no action in the case. The Procurator Fiscal considers a number of factors in coming to this decision. (As outlined above)In cases which will be considered by a jury, the Procurator Fiscal will interview witnesses and gather and review the forensic and other evidence before a decision to prosecute is taken. S/He will then make a report to Crown Counsel to take a decision on whether to prosecute.
Under Scots law, the Department must prepare the prosecution in the most serious custody cases under one of the strictest legal time limits in the world. The indictment, which details the charges which the accused will face, must be served on him within 80 days of the accused being fully committed in custody.
Where the proceedings are taken before a jury in the Sheriff Court, the trial must start within 110 days of full committal. A First Diet must take place not less than 10 days before the trial. That calling of the case gives the Sheriff an opportunity to ascertain the state of preparation of the parties generally, and he will only allow the matter to proceed to trial when the parties are ready.
The procedure and time limits which apply are slightly different in High Court cases. There, the next step after full committal is the preliminary hearing which must occur within 110 days from the point of full committal. This Hearing gives the judge, among other things, a chance to ascertain the state of preparation of the parties, and he will only allow the matter to proceed to trial when the parties are ready. As with the time limits in Sheriff court cases, this helps to provide a degree of certainty as to when the trial will take place and avoids witnesses turning up at court only to find that the trial has been adjourned to another date. The trial in custody cases must begin within 140 days.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) works closely with Police Scotland.
The roles of COPFS and the police are complementary, and regular dialogue and co-operation enables problems and issues to be dealt with efficiently and effectively.
The Procurator Fiscal in Scotland has an investigative role and can provide instructions and directions to the police in connection with their investigations. This happens particularly in serious cases, where the police work very closely with the Procurator Fiscal. In cases of sudden, suspicious and unexplained deaths, the Procurator Fiscal has responsibility during the early stages of the investigation to arrange a post mortem examination by forensic pathologists.