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COPFS

Section 1 - Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

Freedom of Information: Section 1 - Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

Thank you for your request dated 25 February 2014, under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the following information:

1. a) How many reports to the Procurator Fiscal have been made under Section 1 ("grooming") Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005, since 2005?

Please also provide a breakdown by number/ year; and by COPFS federation.

b) In how many of these cases has there been: guilty/ not guilty/not proven verdicts?

2. a) Since 2005, how many cases have seen Section 1 Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 charges dropped, but proceeded with under other Sexual Offences charges ( whether Common Law, or under the Sexual Offences (Scot.) Act 2003, or Sexual Offences (Scot.) Act 2009)? Please also provide a breakdown by number/per year; and by COPFS federation.

3. If relevant, since 2005, how many of the cases described in Q.2 have succeeded in convictions (whether Common Law, or under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2003, or Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009)?

The information you have requested in relation to parts 1a) and b) of your request is provided at Annex A.

COPFS uses a live operational case management system, specifically designed to receive criminal and death reports from the police and other specialist reporting agencies and to manage the cases for investigation and prosecution purposes. The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes. Due to the way the data is structured on our system, where we are asked to provide statistical information, we provide this by number of charges rather than number of reports. A case report may involve more than one charge.

The second table only provides information about charges which have reached a verdict in court. For completeness it should be noted that in addition to these outcomes, prosecutions in a number of charges remain ongoing; prosecutions were discontinued in some other charges; and a number of charges were 'not separately prosecuted'. This is where no action was taken under the charge reported, but action was taken under an alternative charge or in relation to other charges reported by the police in the case, for example, because the prosecutor took the view that an alternative charge was more appropriate or because details of the charge were included within the body of another charge for evidential reasons. In cases where grooming has occurred, there may well be related sexual offences which are prosecuted, and the grooming may more appropriately form part of the narrative of those charges rather than being prosecuted separately. Careful consideration is always given by legal staff as to how offences should most appropriately be libelled.

In a number of charges, no action was taken. The most common reason for this was due to there being insufficient credible, reliable, admissible and corroborated evidence.

Additionally, there are a number of charges reported to us in which prosecution decisions have not yet been reached.

COPFS takes the prosecution of sexual offences and offences against children extremely seriously, and we have a robust prosecution policy in relation to these types of offences. However, as the majority of sexual offences take place in private, corroborating what actually took place can be difficult, and accordingly there will not always be sufficient evidence in law for prosecutorial action to be taken.

In relation to parts 2 and 3 of your request, I can advise that in order to collate the information you have requested, we would require to view and consider each potentially relevant case individually. Under section 1(1) of FOISA a Scottish public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request exceeds a specified financial threshold, which is currently £600. We estimate that due to the volume of cases that would have to be manually considered, checking the relevant cases to comply with this request would exceed the £600 threshold, and accordingly we are unable to provide the information you have requested at parts 2 and 3 of your request.

1a)

Charges reported to PF under Section 1 of Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

 

Financial Year Reported

Federation

 

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14*

Total

EAST

 

-

5

13

3

27

22

12

7

16

105

NORTH

 

-

6

6

9

8

14

1

8

9

61

WEST

 

2

4

3

6

5

12

15

14

12

73

Total

 

2

15

22

18

40

48

28

29

37

239

 

 

1b)

Charges with a Guilty/Not Guilty or Not Proven Verdict

 

Financial Year Reported

Federation

Verdict

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14*

Total

EAST

Guilty

-

2

6

-

13

14

4

1

-

40

 

Not Guilty

-

1

3

-

1

4

2

1

-

12

NORTH

Guilty

-

2

-

1

1

3

-

1

2

10

 

Not Guilty

-

1

-

-

3

4

-

-

-

8

 

Not Proven

-

-

-

-

-

1

-

-

-

1

WEST

Guilty

2

-

1

5

1

4

4

1

2

20

 

Not Guilty

-

2

1

-

2

1

2

3

-

11

Total

 

2

8

11

6

21

31

12

7

4

102

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*2013-14 data includes cases up to 5 March 2014