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Specialist Reporting Agencies

Over 50 specialist reporting agencies, other than the Police, report cases to the Procurator Fiscal each year. The types of offences reported can range from benefit fraud to pollution of drinking water, from illegal dumping of waste to infringement of trading standards. The list of reporting agencies includes bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as Local Authority departments such as Environmental Health and Trading Standards.

Although the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has historically resisted the development of specialist prosecutors, who might handle the offences reported by Specialist Reporting Agencies, on the basis that Procurators Fiscal are, by their very nature, specialists in criminal law whose knowledge and skills can be adapted for any type of prosecution, we have acknowledged that due to advances in technology and the intricacies of modern life and law, the prosecution of crime is becoming increasingly complex.

As part of our commitment to providing a consistent and high standard of service, and in line with the commitment given in A Partnership for a Better Scotland, a national network of prosecutors has been created to specialise in environmental and wildlife law.

Offences such as the pollution of rivers by raw sewage or chemical spillage can pose a real threat both to public health and to the environment but these are not cases that are dealt with every day by Procurators Fiscal and accordingly, a number of existing prosecutors have been appointed and have received specialist training with SEPA.

Similarly, a network of prosecutors has been trained in wildlife offences such as the theft of wild birds' eggs or the shooting or poisoning of protected species of birds or animals.

In establishing a network of Procurators Fiscal with expertise in the prosecution of such offences and who are able to share their experiences across the country more readily, we are helping to make sure that COPFS is equipped to conduct effective investigation and prosecution of environmental crime against a better background of understanding of the context of these offences.