Freedom of Informartion: Section 6 of the [Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 (R009264)
Thank you for your e-mail of 12 December 2014 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in which you seek the following information:
“I am carrying out research on the use of statutory powers in relation to offences set out in Section 6 of the [Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997]”
Since enactment in 1997, please would you confirm for Scotland:
1) the number of cases considered by COPFS;
2) the geographical distribution of cases considered by local planning authority area;
3) the number of prosecutions taken forward by COPFS; and
4) the percentage prosecutions where the accused pleaded or was found to be guilty”
The information that you have requested is only held by COPFS from 2002/03. Therefore, the information that you have requested from between 1997 and 2001/02 is not held in terms of section 17 of FOISA.
The information that you have requested, as of 2002/03, has been provided at Annex A. These tables only go up to 2009/10 as no charges under section 6 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997 have been reported to COPFS since then.
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.
As such, the information provided has been broken down by the geographical jurisdiction of local Procurator Fiscal’s offices rather than by local planning authority area. If no cases have been reported to a particular Procurator Fiscal’s Office, that office is not included in either table.
You will note from the information provided that of the eleven charges reported to COPFS under section 6 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas)(Scotland) Act 1997, court proceedings were taken in respect of three of these charges. All such proceedings resulted in a conviction.
With regard to the outcome of the remaining charges that were reported, a warning letter was issued in relation to two charges and no action was taken in the remaining six. There can be a number of reasons why no action is taken in respect of a particular charge, for example, insufficient evidence, delay in reporting the offence by the police and the existence of mitigating circumstances, to name but a few.