Accessibility |

COPFS

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (26/07/2016) (R012841)

Thank you for your request dated 8 April 2016 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information. 

“This Freedom of Information request is made in connection with academic research into the impact of sections 28 to 31 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (the sections). The research seeks to focus on the role of women in serious organised crime in Scotland.

·         How many individuals have been charged under each of the aforementioned sections since the coming into force of the 2010 Act?

·         How many women have been charged under each of the aforementioned sections since the coming into force of the 2010 Act?

  • Which specific sections of the 2010 Act were each of these women charged under?
  • What are the details of each of the charges against these women (e.g. money laundering, drug trafficking etc.)?
  • Which of these cases resulted in successful prosecutions?
  • How did the court dispose of the cases that resulted in successful prosecutions”

COPFS does not hold information on the total number of individuals who have been charged, only on the individuals who have been the subject of a report to COPFS and this response has been compiled on that basis.

·         How many individuals have been charged under each of the aforementioned sections since the coming into force of the 2010 Act?

·         How many women have been charged under each of the aforementioned sections since the coming into force of the 2010 Act?

I can confirm that since the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 came in to force a total of 637 persons have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal under Sections 28 to 31 of the Act.  Of that total, 98 were woman.

You should be aware that the reports received may contain one or more accused person and that each accused person may have one or more charges libelled against them.

·         Which specific sections of the 2010 Act were each of these women charged under?

I can confirm that a total of 108 charges were reported against women.  94 of those charges were reported under Section 28 of the Act.  Three charges were reported under Section 30 of the Act and 11 charges were reported under Section 31 of the Act. 

·         What are the details of each of the charges against these women (e.g. money laundering, drug trafficking etc.)?

The other charges reported against the women concerned were variously the common law offences of fraud; attempted fraud; attempt to defeat the ends of justice; culpable and reckless conduct; reset; and theft.  The reports against the women also variously contained statutory charges under the following legislation:  Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013; Consumer Credit Act 1974; Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003; Criminal Law (Consolidation)(Scotland) Act 1995; Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995; Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010; Customs and Excise Management Act 1979; Firearms Act 1965; Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981; General Product Safety Regulations 1994; Identity Documents Act 2010; Insolvency Act 1986; Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012; and Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.


The provisions under sections 28 to 31 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 put in place new offences to criminalise those people who direct or are involved in the commission of serious organised crime. They also criminalise certain classes of individual who fail to report serious organised criminal activity. The creation of these offences opened up the possibility of any material benefit an offender derives from such criminal activity being seized or confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 where appropriate. The Procurator Fiscal wishes to pursue those who work together for the purposes of committing and conspiring to commit serious crimes which are intended to generate material benefit, whether directly or indirectly.


Indeed, serious organised crime is often carried out by groups of individuals working together to maximise the benefits they derive from their criminal activity. By doing so it allows individuals to obtain a greater benefit from their offending than they might do if working alone and outside an established criminal network. It can also provide protection from those at the very top of such networks who can instruct or direct others to carry out activity on behalf of their network but who do not carry out criminal acts and therefore prove difficult to prosecute. COPFS therefore wish to capture all levels of serious organised crime from those at the very top who instruct or direct others to undertake such activity, to the drug dealer on the street corner who is supporting serious organised crime in our communities.


However, it should be noted that not all charges and/or cases should or would be suitable for these provisions, and it is important that they are targeted at the right level. For example, it may be more appropriate to libel offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act or money laundering offences, rather than serious and organised crime specific offences. A number of factors are taken into account by the Procurator Fiscal when determining the most appropriate charge to use following receipt of a report by the police. This includes the nature and gravity of the alleged conduct; sentencing options available upon conviction; and a number of evidential considerations. Indeed, offences under these provisions are all predicated on the ability to evidence that there are in effect 2 people acting together to commit an indictable offence for a benefit, however that might manifest itself. There are lots of reasons why there might be insufficient evidence to prove a connection to serous organised criminal activity given that each of those criteria are required. Accordingly, whilst the police may submit reports utilising these provisions, it is ultimately a matter for the Procurator Fiscal what charges to libel. It therefore may be more appropriate to prosecute accused person(s) for other offences after consideration of the full facts and circumstances.


The Procurator Fiscal continues to work in consultation with the police to ensure a consistency of approach in such cases and to minimise the reporting of matters with a serious and organised crime element, when an alternative approach is more appropriate. This is an area that is continually trying to be improved upon in order to prevent the overuse of the provisions for minor offences, and to minimise the reporting of such cases by the police where there is an insufficiency of evidence to demonstrate the link to serious and organised criminal activity.

·         Which of these cases resulted in successful prosecutions?

Of the cases involving women containing a charge under Section 28-31 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 which have had proceedings raised in Court and have concluded, a conviction has been obtained in 26 of those cases.  However, please note that the conviction may have been obtained on another charge in the case and against another accused.  Please also note that a number of cases will still be ongoing.

·         How did the court dispose of the cases that resulted in successful prosecutions

I consider that information on individual sentences is exempt from release under section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This is an absolute exemption and is not subject to the public interest test.  However, I can confirm that the sentences imposed by the Court include monetary fines; Community Payback Orders; Drug Treatment and Testing Orders; and periods of imprisonment.

Statistical information about prosecutions can be extracted more easily from the Scottish Government Justice Department's Court Proceedings Database which is designed to provide statistical information.  It contains information about cases prosecuted in all Courts and can provide information either at the level of the specific offence or by certain broader groupings of offences (eg crimes of violence, crimes of dishonesty, offences involving drugs etc).  You can contact the Scottish Government Justice Department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on 0131 244 2228.