COPFS provides Scotland’s independent prosecution service and is headed by the Lord Advocate, Solicitor General and Crown Agent. COPFS is governed by an Executive Board.
COPFS is organised into three distinct functions. Each function specialises in a specific part of our work. Serious Casework and Local Court handle specific types of crime. Operational Support handles essential business tasks.
Together, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General are known as the Law Officers.
The Law Officers set the strategic priorities, objectives and prosecution policy for COPFS.
The Lord Advocate is the ministerial head of COPFS, leading the system of criminal prosecutions and the investigation of deaths. All prosecutions on indictment run in the Lord Advocate’s name. The Lord Advocate also has a number of statutory functions, including in relation to extradition and mutual legal assistance with other jurisdictions.
The Lord Advocate is a Minister of the Scottish Government, but decisions by the Lord Advocate about criminal prosecutions and the investigation of deaths are taken independently of any other person.
The Lord Advocate is appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister, with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.
The current Lord Advocate is Dorothy Bain QC who was appointed in June 2021.
The Solicitor General is the Lord Advocate’s deputy. They assist the Lord Advocate to carry out their functions. They are also a Minister of the Scottish Government.
The Solicitor General is appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the First Minister, with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament.
The current Solicitor General is Ruth Charteris QC who was appointed in June 2021
The Crown Agent is the principal legal advisor to the Lord Advocate on prosecution matters and the Chief Executive of COPFS.
The Crown Agent is accountable to the Law Officers for the delivery of efficient and effective prosecution of crime and investigation of deaths, in accordance with their priorities and prosecution polices. The Crown Agent is the Accountable Officer for COPFS and, as such, answerable to the Scottish Parliament for the regularity and propriety of COPFS’ finance and the stewardship of public monies.
The current Crown Agent is David Harvie, a Solicitor Advocate who joined COPFS in 1996. David was promoted to Crown Agent in April 2016.
The Executive Board provides strategic leadership to COPFS and is collectively responsible for delivering COPFS’s vision, aim and objectives.
The Executive Board’s role is the provision of advice, challenge, support and assurance to the Crown Agent. The Board focuses on a range of areas including:
- performance and outcomes
- people and capability
- finance and risk
- organisational efficiency
- corporate wellbeing
The Board is chaired by the Crown Agent and includes senior members of staff and non-executive directors.
Reporting to the Board are committees focusing on resource management, business improvement, operational performance, and audit and risk.
COPFS is divided into three ‘functions’:
- Serious Casework
- Local Court
- Operational Support
Teams in Serious Casework investigate and prosecute cases that need special knowledge or experience. Examples include environmental crime, organised crime, the investigation of sudden or unexplained deaths, and appeals.
Serious Casework also includes High Court teams. The most serious crimes in Scotland are dealt with by the High Court. These include murder, sexual offences, and cold cases.
The Local Court function prosecutes cases in Justice of the Peace and Sheriff Courts.
Local Court teams work in offices across Scotland. Offices are grouped into six Sheriffdoms:
- Glasgow and Strathkelvin
- Grampian, Highland and Islands
- Lothian and Borders
- North Strathclyde
- South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway
- Tayside, Central and Fife
A specialist national team in Local Court makes initial decisions in all summary crimes reported to COPFS.
Teams in Operational Support complete essential business tasks. The function's work is divided into two areas. Policy and Engagement includes Media Relations, Policy and our Enquiry Point. The Business Services teams include Finance, HR, and IT.