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Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, Section 54

Freedom of Information: Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, Section 54

I refer to your email request requesting information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOSIA) about how many witnesses the Crown Office has said could see the statements they gave to the police and how many were refused access for this information to be provided on a regional basis.

The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, Section 54 provides that: ".........(2) Before the witness gives evidence in the criminal proceedings, the prosecutor may— (a) give the witness a copy of the statement, or

(b) make the statement available for inspection by the witness at a reasonable time and in a reasonable place".

The process of providing witnesses in summary cases with access to their statement is currently subject to a pilot at Glasgow Sheriff Court. All witness citations issued to witnesses cited to Glasgow Sheriff Court for summary trials contain an offer to the witness to opt-in to receive a copy of their statement prior to giving evidence. Where a witness asks to have access to their statement, this request is considered by a member of legal staff. The number of witnesses who have been cited to Glasgow Sheriff Court since commencement of the pilot is 15,224. The records show that the number of witnesses who have requested access to their statement where this has subsequently been refused is 3 witnesses.

Witnesses in all solemn cases where the first appearance of the accused was on or after 6 June 2011 may, at the discretion of a legal member of staff, be offered the opportunity to opt-in to attend at the Procurator Fiscal's Office in advance of the date of the trial to receive access to their statement. This offer to opt-in is contained in a letter sent to the witness after First Diet/Preliminary Hearing who will be required at the trial diet.

You have asked for the information about the figures to be broken down by region. COPFS is now structured into 4 Federations – East, North, West and National. The information has been broken down on the basis of these regions.

The Procurator Fiscal Offices covered by each of the geographical federations are as follows:-

East Federation -Edinburgh, Livingston, Haddington, Jedburgh, Selkirk, Cupar, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Alloa, Falkirk and Stirling.

North Federation -Aberdeen, Stonehaven, Elgin, Peterhead, Banff, Dundee, Perth, Arbroath, Forfar, Inverness, Dingwall, Fort William, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Lochmaddy, Stornoway, Tain, Darroch, Wick and Portree.

West Federation -Glasgow, Campbeltown, Dumbarton, Dunoon, Greenock, Rothesay, Oban, Paisley, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Stranraer, Airdrie, Hamilton and Lanark.

The National Federation has responsibility for those departments of COPFS which have been centralised due to the particular specialism they cover such as the Serious Casework Group which includes the Serious and Organised Crime Division and the Health and Safety Division.

The undernoted shows the number of solemn witnesses for each Federation where a record has been made that a letter should be issued offering the witness the opportunity to opt-in to attend at the Procurator Fiscal's Office to receive access to their statement in advance of the date of the trial:

East Federation – 1055

North Federation – 3320

West Federation – 6323

National Federation – 4

The undernoted shows the number of solemn witnesses per Federation where a record has been made that a letter should not be issued offering the witness the opportunity to opt-in to receiving access to their statement at the Procurator Fiscal's Office in advance of the date of the trial:

East Federation – 36

North Federation – 123

West Federation – 6321

National Federation – 1