COPFS corporate

Crown Office cash boost to clear post-mortem backlog

COPFS can confirm an additional £300,000 investment to help clear overdue post-mortem reports that are impacting upon a large number of bereaved families in Scotland.

The Crown relies upon experts employed by the University of Glasgow for a significant amount of the medical and scientific services it needs, and has been experiencing a backlog ‎in toxicological analysis. 

This has resulted in ‎delays to the completion of post-mortem reports and this cash boost will be paid to the university to help them recruit additional staff, buy new equipment and materials, help clear the waiting cases and secure better provision of the service until September 2020. A long-term solution for future delivery of toxicology is being sought by the Crown with an alternative provider.

The head of COPFS, Crown Agent David Harvie, said: “COPFS appreciate the impact that a delay in confirming the final cause of death can have on those who have lost a loved one.

“We have been meeting with the university to discuss workloads and performance and this significant funding has been allocated to address those issues.

“In addition, COPFS is seeking to secure the future delivery of these services and preserve the valuable contribution toxicology staff make to the investigation of deaths.”

All sudden and unexplained deaths must be reported to the Procurator Fiscal who enquires into their circumstances. In many cases a post-mortem examination will be arranged and toxicology results are used by pathologists to complete their post-mortem report and confirm the cause of death.

However, delay in toxicology only rarely affects release of the deceased for burial/cremation as initial death certificates are issued to allow families to make funeral arrangements.