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COPFS

Cases falling due to exceeding time bar limits. Hours allocated to PFs for training and continuing professional development (02/11/2016)(R014469)

Thank you for your request dated 6 October 2016 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

“1)       The percentage of (a) High court (b) Sheriff court and (c) Justice of the Peace cases that have fallen due to exceeding the time bar limit in each month since April 2014.

2)         The number of (a) High court (b) Sheriff court and (c) Justice of the Peace  cases that have fallen due to exceeding the time bar limits in each month since April 2014.

3)         The number of hours procurators fiscal are allocated for training and continuing professional development, for each of the 11 procurator fiscal regions, for each year since 2010”

Some of the information you have requested is published on our website, however, I can confirm that in respect of parts 1 and 2 of your query, no High Court or Sheriff and Jury cases have fallen due to exceeding the time bar limit.  I attach a link to the published information for FY 2015-16 and April-June 2016 for your information:

Indictment Targets 2015-16 & April to June 2016

I also attach at Annex A a copy of information which was previously published on our website in relation to the FY 2014/15.

With regard to Sheriff Summary and Justice of the Peace cases which have fallen due to exceeding time bar limits; in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600.  Under Section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under Section 12.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's case management database is a live, operating database.  It is designed to meet our Department's business needs in relation to the processing of criminal cases, and the information within it is structured accordingly.  We do not have a separate database, and hold only operational data needed for business purposes.

In order to identify summary cases which have fallen due to exceeding time bar limits Crown Office staff would be required to consider individually each closed case for the time period requested and the time taken to complete this task would exceed the upper cost limit.

I can confirm that there are a number of cases where proceedings were not raised due to the case being time barred on receipt by COPFS and these figures are published on our website.  I attach a link to the relevant page for your information:  Cases Marked No Action

In respect of part 3 of your request, in order to provide the number of hours of training legal staff had undertaken since 2010, individual training records for all legal staff would have to be considered and the time taken to complete this task would exceed the upper cost limit and accordingly is exempt under Section 12 of FOISA.

I can advise that Legal staff who join COPFS as Trainee Solicitors are subject to mandatory in-house training courses which totals 121 hours

Fully qualified Solicitors who join COPFS are subject to an in-house accreditation program which may take 2 years to complete and totals 129 hours.

Thereafter legal staff will attend training that they require to meet the needs of their function throughout their career and this can vary from person to person, depending on their role; this training is provided in-house and can be a combination of e-learning and attendance at training courses.

It should be noted that all legal staff, as solicitors holding practising certificates from the Law Society of Scotland, are required to undertake a minimum of 20 hours Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in any CPD year (currently running 1 November – 31 October).  5 hours can be from non-verifiable personal study, but at least 15 hours must be from verifiable CPD.  The primary source of this verifiable CPD is attendance at face to face training or undertaking eLearning modules.  Currently COPFS has a number of mandatory eLearning modules which provide a minimum of 12 hours in a year.