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Witnesses and their statements (R009032)

Freedom of Information: Witnesses and their statements (R009032)

Thank you for your request dated 11 November 2014 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

“Following the introduction of legislation that, with permission, allows witnesses to see their statements, I would like to know, yearly thereafter:

1. How many witnesses were cited to give evidence;
2. How many witnesses were given permission to see their statements; and
3. How many witnesses actually seen their statements.”

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.  This delay was due to  seeking clarification of how these figures are recorded across COPFS to ensure you were provided with an accurate response.

In respect of the first part of your request, I can advise that 301,175 witnesses were cited to give evidence in the financial year 2012/2013 and that 341,419 witnesses were cited to give evidence in the financial year 2013/14.  This figure includes civilian, professional, expert and Police witnesses.

In respect of parts 2 and 3 of your request, while we do endeavour to provide information whenever possible, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's case management database is a live, operating database.  It is designed to meet this 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, ie to prepare court documentation; to send and receive electronic information regarding court appearances and results; to cite witnesses; to deal with issues relating to disclosure of information to the defence etc.

As a number of records of this type are held on paper files in order to provide you with an accurate number of the witnesses given permission to see their statements and the number of witnesses who attended to view their statements, Crown Office staff would be required to consider each paper file in cases which were due to proceed to trial and the time taken to complete this task would exceed the upper cost limit.

We do endeavour to provide information whenever possible.  However, 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.