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.
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
- Accused persons
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.