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Outcome of cases marked in 2014/4 for offences committed in Aberdeen/Stonehaven area (R008840)

Freedom of Information: Outcome of cases marked in 2014/4 for offences committed in Aberdeen/Stonehaven area (R008840)

Thank you for your e-mail of 15 October 2014 to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) National Enquiry Point. Due to the nature of your request it has been treated as a request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). In particular, you have requested the following information:

“During our last Community Council meeting, there was a question raised regarding the number of cases presented to your office versus the number of cases where the decision was made not to proceed with action…Are you able to advise what these comparative numbers are ?”

Subsequently in your email of 17 October 2014 you clarified that you required, if possible, the information for 2013/14 in relation to the Aberdeen Garioch area specifically.

It may assist to explain that 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.

Due to the way in which the information is held it is not possible to conduct a search of the electronic system for all cases relating specifically to the Aberdeen Garioch area. Instead, we have provided the information requested in relation to the whole Aberdeen and Stonehaven area. The requested information is contained in Annex A.

The information provided has been collated on the basis of all cases marked by COPFS in 2013/14 in relation to offences commited within the Aberdeen and Stonehaven area. The table provided shows the number of people who were reported to COPFS and the outcome of those reports. You should be aware that where an individual has been reported to COPFS multiple times, each time they are reported is reflected within the statistics. The statistics provided do not include cases that have been reported but are still under consideration.

In relation to your concerns about the decision to take no action in certain cases, I can advise you that in Scotland the police report incidents of alleged criminality to the Procurator Fiscal. The Procurator Fiscal, as the independent prosecution authority, decides whether action can be taken in respect of a criminal allegation reported to him based on whether there is sufficient admissible, corroborated, credible evidence, in law, of a crime having been committed. If the Procurator Fiscal concludes that there is sufficient evidence, they will consider what action, if any, should be taken in the public interest.

As is highlighted within the statistics provided, over half of all cases that were marked ‘no action’ in Aberdeen during 2013/14 were marked that way because there was insufficient evidence to prosecute or because the conduct reported did not amount to a criminal offence known to the law of Scotland.

Even when there is sufficient evidence to prosecute an individual, the Procurator Fiscal has a duty to consider whether or not criminal proceedings are in the overall public interest. I attach a link to the COPFS Prosecution Code:

Pages 6 – 8 of the Prosecution Code outline the various factors that are to be considered by the Procurator Fiscal in determining whether it is in the public interest to prosecute an accused person.

Overall, I can assure you that when there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to take proceedings against an accused person, appropriate action will be taken.

Annex A

Outcome of cases marked in 2013/14 for offences committed in the Aberdeen and Stonehaven area

Outcome

Number of people

Solemn Court Proceedings

786

Summary Court Proceedings

7,713

Fiscal Fine & Compensation Order (Combined)

267

Fiscal Fine

1,696

Compensation Order

52

Work Scheme

69

Fixed Penalty

3,990

Diversion

252

Warning Letter

422

Referred to Children’s Reporter

44

No Action

1,456 *

Total

16,747


* 742 cases were marked ‘No Action’ as there was insufficient admissible evidence and 88 were marked ‘No action’ as the conduct reported did not amount to a criminal offence