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Information about Prosecutions and COPFS Complaints

Freedom of Information - Information about Prosecutions and COPFS Complaints

Thank you for your letter dated 1 January 2014 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

For the last full year for which figures are available:

(1)      How many prosecutions took place in Scotland?

(2)      (a) How many complaints were made in stage 1 of your complaints  procedure? (b)  How many were not upheld in full or in part?

(3)      (a)  How many complaints proceeded to stage 2?(b)  How many were upheld?

(4)      (a)  How many complaints were referred to the Ombudsman? (b)  What proportion of the referrals was successful?


(1) How many prosecutions took place in Scotland?

Information about the number of prosecutions is published information and therefore exempt under section 25 of FOISA as being information otherwise accessible. However, I can advise you that the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) published data about court disposals can be found on our website www.copfs.gsi.gov.uk. The number of cases disposed of at court in 2012-13 was 92,721. This information can be found at:

http://www.copfs.gov.uk/images/Documents/Statistics/Case%20Processing%20Last%205%20Years%202008-13.pdf

The Scottish Government also publish statistical information about individuals prosecuted.  The total number of people prosecuted can be found in their Criminal Proceedings bulletin. In 2012-13, the number was 116,623.  You can view this information at:

http://www.scotland.gov.uk./Publications/2013/11/2711/4

The formal two-stage complaints procedure was introduced in the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) when the Response & Information Unit (RIU) was set up at the beginning of June 2013.  RIU is a centralised team, based in Crown Office which responds to complaints, freedom of information requests and subject access requests under the Data Protection Act 1998 addressed to COPFS.  This policy consisted of a Quick Resolution stage which provided an opportunity to resolve complaints quickly and informally, and a formal two-stage policy which allowed for a written response and right to a review of the decision taken.

However, in November 2013, the COPFS complaints process was amended to comply with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s new model Complaints Handling Procedure, which can be viewed on the SPSO website www.spso.org.uk.  The new policy consists of one Quick Resolution and one formal stage.  Any member of staff within COPFS will attempt to resolve a complaint quickly and informally where this is appropriate in the circumstances.  Where this is not possible, the RIU will provide one formal response.

Therefore as you have asked about the two-stage policy, I am providing you with figures for the policy which existed between June and October 2013.

2(a) How many complaints were made in stage 1 of your complaints procedure? (b) How many were not upheld in full or in part?

In this period, 315 stage 1 complaints were received and 247 were not upheld in full.  A further 50 complaints were partly not upheld.

(3)(a)  How many complaints proceeded to stage 2? (b)  How many were upheld

Of the above figure, 71 complaints proceeded to stage 2.  Currently 17 of these complaints are still under investigation, 7 complaints have been upheld and a further 11 partially upheld. This figure includes complaints which were upheld or partially upheld at both stages 1 and 2.

(4)(a)  How many complaints were referred to the Ombudsman? (b) What proportion of the referrals was successful?

We are not advised of the number of complaints which the Ombudsman receives about COPFS and therefore this information is not held. However, the Ombusdman has not advised COPFS that he intends to investigate any complaints relating to the two-stage procedure to COPFS.