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Solemn cases reduced to summary/Domestic Assault

Freedom of information: Solemn cases reduced to summary/Domestic Assault

Thank you for your request dated 30 August 2013, under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the following information:

"Each request below covers the following periods: (i) April, May and June of 2012 (ii) July, August and September of 2012 (iii) October, November and December of 2012 (iv) January, February and March of 2013 (v) April, May and June of 2013)

(1) in each of the aforementioned periods, how many cases were marked as solemn cases by the Procurator Fiscal and reduced to Summary procedure by Crown Counsel or the Lord Advocate?

(2) in each of the aforementioned periods, how many of the cases in (1) contained charges relating to domestic assault

If it is estimated that to comply with (2) above would exceed the cost of compliance, and upon an explanation as to why it is believed that it would exceed the cost of compliance, the information in (2) for the period at (v) would be an acceptable alternative.

We have now completed our search for the information your request.

You may be aware that the Lord Advocate answered a Parliamentary Question in the Scottish Parliament on 11 September 2013 about cases in which a decision was taken to proceed on summary complaint following an initial appearance on petition. The Lord Advocate advised the Scottish Parliament that in each of the last three years the numbers of such decisions have been1764, 1865 and 1789 respectively.

For the purposes of the information you have requested, we have provided you with the number of charges (a petition usually contains numerous charges) in relation to each of your requests. This is because the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) uses a live, operational case management system. This system is specifically designed

to receive reports of crimes and fatalities from the police and other specialist reporting agencies, and to manage the cases for prosecution and investigation purposes. The information on the system is held and structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes. In respect of your second request, the data you have requested is recorded at charge level rather than at case level. On that basis, we have provided the data for both of your requests at charge level rather than at case level. (For the avoidance of doubt, the figures provided by the Lord Advocate to the Scottish Parliament related to the number of cases rather than the number of charges.)

The data we have provided in respect of your requests is grouped under the quarter when the instruction to proceed on summary complaint was dated. The date the accused first appeared on petition and the date on which the instruction to proceed on summary complaint was made may not fall within the same quarter. The data includes decisions which have been made by Crown Counsel and by the Procurator Fiscal to proceed on summary complaint following initial solemn proceedings. Where an accused has appeared on petition and been committed for further enquiries, the Procurator Fiscal may take a decision to proceed with the matter on summary complaint. This may occur in assault charges where there is a need to fully investigate the extent of any injury

before taking a decision in relation to the most appropriate forum for criminal proceedings or where it becomes clear that there is insufficient evidence to prove a charge on the petition which if there had been sufficient evidence could have proceeded on indictment but there are other charges which are appropriate for summary procedure.

The information is provided at Annex A, with explanatory notes.

Annex A

1)

Quarter

Number of charges it was decide to proceed with at summary level following initial solemn procedure’

(1) April, May and June 2012

1,626

(2) July, Aug and Sept 2012

1,855

(3) Oct, Nov Dec 2012

1,523

(4) Jan, Feb, March 2013

1,480

(5) April, May and June 2013

1,254

 

2)

Quarter

Number of domestic assault charges it was decided to proceed with at summary level following initial solemn procedure"

(1) April, May and June 2012

57

(2) July, Aug and Sept 2012

54

(3) Oct, Nov and Dec 2012

59

(4) Jan, Feb and March 2013

88

(5) April, May and June 2013

38

 

‘ total number of charges which appear to have been subject to summary proceedings following an earlier appearance on petition

" total number of assault charges which have a domestic aggravation and contain the word assault which appear to have been subject to summary proceedings following an earlier appearance on petition