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COPFS

Direct Measures – Alternative to Prosecution

Freedom of information: Direct Measures – Alternative to Prosecution

Thank you for your request dated 9 July 2014 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

"1. The number of direct measures offered by the COPFS as an alternative to prosecution in each of the last five years up to the date of answer of this request. 

(a) Please breakdown the figures by direct measure offered (fiscal fine, warning etc).

(b) Please breakdown the figures by allegation.

2. Please indicate the total amount of fiscal fines issued in each of the last five years up to the date of this request.

(a) If possible please state how much has been collected in respect of fiscal fines in each of the last five years up to the date of this request.

3. Please indicate the total number of community service/unpaid work hours offered as an alternative to prosecution in each of the last five years up to the date of answer of this request.

(a) If possible please state how many hours had been completed in each of the last five years up to the date of this request."

In respect of Parts 1, 1(a) and 2 of your request, we do endeavour to provide information where appropriate, however, under section 25(1) of FOISA, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested in respect of the financial years 2009-2014 is contained within the published statistics on case processing for the past 5 years, available from the COPFS website.

If you do not have access to obtain this information from the website listed, then please contact me again and I will arrange to provide it in hard copy.

I have attached a table below with the information relating to Non-Court Disposals for the period from April-June 2014.

Statistics on Case Processing

April to June 2014-15

 

 

Non-Court Disposals

 

No Action

7,093

Warning Letters

1,818

Conditional Offers of Fixed Penalties Paid

4,335

Fiscal Fines Paid/Accepted

10,755

Compensation Orders Accepted

219

Combined Fiscal Fines/Compensation Orders Accepted

577

Other Non-Court disposals

3,622

Total Non-Court Disposals

28,419

 

In respect of Part 1(b) of your request, we do endeavour to provide information where appropriate, however, under section 25(1) of FOISA, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested in respect of the breakdown of figures by allegation is contained within published statistics available on the Scottish Government Website and I attach a link to their website for your assistance. This link directs you to the information for the year 2012/13 and information on previous years is also available on the Scottish Government website.

I consider that providing you with the information requested for the remaining period 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.

In order to provide such a breakdown Crown Office staff would be required to consider individually each report submitted in which a direct measure was offered and the time taken to complete this task would exceed the upper cost limit.

In respect of part 3 and your request for the total number of community service/unpaid work hours offered as an alternative to prosecution in each of the last five years up to the date of answer of this request. We are not able to provide this information. The COPFS 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 for statistical purposes, 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., accordingly the way in which the COPFS database is structured does not meantime allow for the amount of hours offered to an individual to be extracted from the database.

By way of background it may assist if I explain that Fiscal Work Orders have been available in the local authority areas of West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, South Lanarkshire and Highland since 2008. Their availability was extended to Edinburgh City, Dundee City and Aberdeen City in 2011.

There is a publication on the Scottish Government website regarding the Evaluation of Work Order Pilots which you may find useful and I attach a link to that document for your assistance.

In respect of parts 2(a) and 3(a) of your request, I have established in terms of Section 17(1) of FOISA, that the information you have requested is not held by COPFS.

In respect of 2(a), the collection of monies in respect of Fiscal Fines is the responsibility of the Sheriff Clerk. It may be that the Scottish Court Service would be in a position to provide you with this information. I attach a link to their website for you assistance.

In respect of 3(a), the responsibility for the administration of Procurator Fiscal Work orders lies with the local authority. It may be that the respective local authorities would be in a position to provide you with that information.