8 November 2012
Freedom of Information Request : Retention of case related information
You have requested the following information:
Information on what happens to the evidence, media, statements, pre-sentence reports, etc and who, where and how long it is stored, for example when someone is charged and in front of the court for a trial or other such business.
It may be helpful if I split my reply into sections dealing with the material that may be obtained in a criminal investigation and/or prosecution.
Productions and Labels
Productions and labels (i.e. documentary and physical evidence obtained by the police or other reporting agency) are retained and returned by COPFS in accordance with guidance to prosecutors which can be found here:
(at Chapter 11.178)
In cases where the police have seized items which are of no relevance to the case, it is a matter for the police to decide what to do with them. Similarly, when a prosecutor marks a case for no action or a warning letter, the decision of disposal of the items seized in the case is a matter for the police.
In relation to stolen property, there is a presumption in summary cases (i.e. cases which do not proceed before a jury) in favour of photographing and then returning the property to the true owner unless the prosecutor is of the opinion that there is an issue of disputed ownership; there may be a pawnbroker's lien; the property requires to be forensically examined or there are other special circumstances that require retention of any item.
Productions belonging to an accused that are not required for that case are, in general, returned prior to trial and requests by an accused person for release of any item are given due consideration.
Case related documentation held by COPFS
Case related documentation – for example witness statements, case related correspondence and expert reports - which has been gathered by COPFS in relation to a criminal prosecution is retained in accordance with our policy on records management which can be found here:
Records Management Policy238.5 KB
Case related documentation held by the Court
Case related documents which have been kept by the Court – for example pre-sentence reports - will be retained by the Scottish Court Service (SCS). You may wish to contact SCS for information on their disposals/retention policy. Their contact information is provided below:
The Freedom of Information Officer
Scottish Court Service Headquarters
1A Parliament Square
Case related documentation held by the police or other reporting agency
Case related documents held by the police or other reporting agency – much of which may be copies of that submitted to COPFS - will be retained in accordance with the relevant police force or reporting agency's disposal/retention policy. You would require to contact an individual police force or reporting agency for further information.