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Number of Procurators Fiscal and adjournment of cases (R008566)

Freedom of Information: Number of Procurators Fiscal and adjournment of cases (R008566)

Thank you for your request dated 5 and 8 September under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

"How many prosecution fiscal officers do we have in scotland?";
"What is the rate of police officer's time wasted because the court isn't ready for them over the last year?";
"What is the rate of case's getting throughout of court because the prosecution fiscal isn't ready for trail's over the last year?";
"How much of public money get's wasted because the court's are ready but at the last stage the prosecution scrap the case?" and
"What happen's to witnesses that don't attend and waste the court's time and money?"

I have addressed each of these points below.

I can advise that as at 31 August 2014, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) employed a total of 1,698 personnel. This number includes full time and part time staff. 537 of the personnel are employed in legal grades and 1698 of the personnel are employed in non-legal grades.

I am unable to provide this information as I have established in terms of Section 17(1) of FOISA, that the information you have requested is not held by COPFS. You may wish to refer this part of your request to Police Scotland.

I have interpreted this part of your request as being a query in relation to how many cases have to be adjourned at the request of the Crown. It may assist you to explain that the Crown may have to make a motion to the court for a case to be adjourned on the day of the trial for a number of reasons that are outwith the Procurator Fiscal's control. Such circumstances include, for example, essential witnesses not attending at court or essential evidence that is being prepared by the police, such as forensic evidence, not being ready in time for the trial.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (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 prosecution purposes. The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes.

Our electronic case management does not record the specific reasons in a particular case for the Crown making a motion to adjourn. Therefore, in order to identify how many cases had to be adjourned because the Crown was not ready for trial rather than, for example, witnesses not attending at court, we would have to consider each individual case manually. Section 12(1) of FOISA does not oblige a Scottish public authority 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. I consider that to conduct a manual search of all cases falling within the terms of your request would exceed the current limit in terms of section 12 (1) of FOISA.

The Procurator Fiscal is under a duty to keep all cases under review. As such, it may be entirely appropriate for proceedings to be discontinued in light of new information that has been received.

However, COPFS do not record the financial costs of criminal proceedings. As such, the information that you have requested is not held in terms of section 17 of FOISA.

I can advise that should a witness, who has been lawfully cited, fail to attend court when required to do so, it is open to the Court to grant a warrant for their arrest. The witness can thereafter be invited to attend court without the necessity of the warrant being passed to the Police. Alternatively, the warrant can be passed to the Police who will detain the accused in order to bring them to court the next lawful day to answer the warrant.