Domestic Abuse Cases – Highlands (R009262)
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 have been asked to submit a Freedom of Information Request relating to the following.
Please could you provide an update on a previous request, it would be helpful to have the information relating to cases reported to the Procurators Fiscal at Dingwall, Dornoch, Fort William, Inverness, Portree, Tain and Wick, since 2011.
1. The Number of charges with a domestic abuse aggravation submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
2. The time taken to take the decision to proceed regarding charges which were prosecuted.
3. The time taken from date of 'Decision to Proceed' to 'Verdict Date' at court for charges which were prosecuted.
4. Reasons for no Action.”
I am now in a position to fully respond to your request.
I can confirm that information is held in relation to your request, attached at Annex A.
As you will note, the figures show an increase in the number of domestic charges being reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) from the timing of your original request in 2012.
Looking at 2013/14, you will also note reductions in the no action rate for charges In addition to the figures provided, it might be helpful to note that the National figures for 2013-14 show a 10.9% no action rate. This represents a significant reduction to previous years, where the ‘no action’ figures nationally had been 17% in both 2011-12 and 2012-13.
A robust approach is taken by the Procurator Fiscal in relation to the prosecution of cases involving domestic abuse, which is a real priority for COPFS. In October 2013 we revised our Joint Protocol with Police Scotland and extended the presumption in favour of prosecution to all domestic abuse cases, and not just those involving violence.
Specific approval procedures involving senior legal managers have also been introduced when a prosecutor considers that no action or alternatives to prosecution should be taken in respect of reported domestic abuse cases.
Included below for your ease of reference is the link to the terms of the Joint Protocol, which is published on the COPFS website.
Whilst the prosecution of domestic abuse is a priority for the Procurator Fiscal, this remains on the basis that there is sufficient, admissible, corroborated evidence in law to raise criminal proceedings. The Procurator Fiscal continues to work closely with the police in order to minimise the reporting of cases which do not meet this evidential threshold; to identify best practice; and to obtain consistency of approach in the investigation, reporting and prosecution of these cases.