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Digital evidence and indecent images of children (R015803)

Thank you for your e-mail of 7 April 2017 in which you requested the following information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):

1. How many cases that included digital evidence (computers, mobile phones, online content etc) did you prosecute over the last 10 years (2006-2016)?

2. In all of the above how many guilty pleads did you have, how many were dropped, and how many went to trial?

3. Of all the cases that went to trial, how many ended up in custodial sentences and how many in other sentences (i.e. fines / community paybacks etc).

4. In the same period how many cases of indecent images of children (child porn) did you investigate, how many of these did you prosecute and how many ended in custodial sentences?

I should firstly explain that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s case management database is a live, operating database. It is designed to meet our business needs in relation to the processing of cases and the information within it is structured accordingly. We do not have a separate statistical database, and hold only operational data needed for business purposes. Where we do provide information the data provided refers to the number of charges and not the number of cases or persons reported; one of more charge(s) may relate to the same accused person.

Points 1 to 3 of your request involve cases that include digital evidence. As explained above where we do provide data this data refers to the number of charges and not cases or persons. There is no specific electronic indicator attached to charges on our case management system to indicate the presence of digital evidence so we are unable to produce the data requested and it is therefore not held under Section 17 of FOISA.

In relation to point 4 which involves cases of indecent images of children, I have provided data based on a search for charges reported under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, Section 52 which includes 52(1)(a), 52(1)(b), 52(1)(c) and 52(1)(d) and 52A. This legislation relates to various forms of activity involving indecent images of children. Where you have asked how many were investigated I have interpreted this as reported by Police Scotland to COPFS. The table below provides data on the total charges reported, prosecuted, convicted and convicted with a custodial sentence.

R015803 Table

I should also highlight for your information that any data you may request from another organisation such as the Scottish Court and Tribunal Service (SCTS) would not be comparable with that provided by COPFS because the SCTS produce statistical information based on disposal date and number of people, where our data is produced using report date and number of charges.