Our role in the justice process

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is Scotland’s prosecution service and death investigation authority. We receive reports about crimes from the police and other reporting agencies and then decide what action to take, including whether to prosecute someone.

We also look into deaths that need further explanation and investigate allegations of criminal conduct against police officers.

We play an important part in the justice system, working with others to make Scotland safe from crime, disorder and danger.

We make our decisions independently and in the public interest. We follow the process set out in the Prosecution Code to make decisions.

COPFS staff will:

  • consider cases reported to COPFS and decide if there is enough evidence to take further action
  • decide, based on the public interest, whether to prosecute a case or take alternative action, such as offering a fine
  • determine the appropriate charges for cases going to court
  • instruct the police during the early stages of investigations in some serious cases, or where further investigation is required in a case
  • prepare cases and present them at court
  • ensure that disclosure is made to the accused or their agent
  • provide information, help and support to victims and witnesses involved in criminal cases

COPFS works closely with Police Scotland, the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service and other partners to deliver justice.

Find out more about our role in investigating deaths.