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Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 – s52(1) and s52(A) and Section 1 of Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

Freedom of Inforamtion:  Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 – s52(1) and s52(A) and Section 1 of Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

Your original request of 25 February was as follows:

“I am looking to try and get stats that show national/local trends in convictions for internet offences, in particular this would be for possession and/or distribution of indecent images but might also cover online grooming”

You then spoke with my colleague on 4 March and at that time it was agreed that we would provide national data about charges under s52(1) and s52A charges of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and under section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005, broken down by financial year for the past three financial years, to include a breakdown of how many cases resulted in court proceedings and how many of these resulted in a conviction.

We have now completed our search for the information you request, and a copy is provided at Annex A below.

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.  More than one charge may relate to the same individual.

The tables only provide information about charges which have resulted in a conviction.  For completeness, it should be noted that some other charges in which court proceedings were taken resulted in an acquittal verdict; 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. 

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.

Annex A

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 198

Convictions

Section

2010-11

2011-12

2012-12

Total

Section 52(1)

95

175

221

491

Section 52(a)

102

117

122

341

Total

197

292

343

832

 

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

Convictions

Section

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

Total

Section 1

21

8

3

32

Total

21

8

3

32