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Guidance on submitting Freedom of Information requests

If you are unsure about what information you are looking for, or about how to ask for information, please email or write to us and we will help you.

You do not have to explain why you want information but it might help us in giving you the information you want.More guidance: Freedom of Information (FOI): at a glance
It costs you nothing but we might have to charge for photocopying and postage and we will always tell you what that cost is before going ahead.

More detailed information is published in our Publication Scheme.
We must - reply or respond to you within 20 days – that is the rule in the Freedom of Information Scotland Act. If we think there might be a delay we will let you know.

Environmental Information Regulations requests have the same deadline but we can extend this up to 40 working days if your request is complex.
FOI gives you the right to request and receive any information held by public authorities.

We can give you information about:
  • COPFS administration
  • complaints against the police
  • criminal prosecution
  • deaths in Scotland
  • proceeds of crime
  • prosecution policy
  • prosecution statistics.
Please note COPFS does not have a statistical database and we only have operational data needed for our business needs.
We cannot give you information which includes:

  • personal information
  • information about a third party
  • information held by other organisations 
  • or clearly any information we do not hold - but we will try and suggest someone who can help you.
Sometimes we might not be able to give you information for a variety of reasons including:

  • where it will cost more than £600 to locate, retrieve and provide it
  • or, repeated requests for the same information.
More information on what might be refused and why can be found on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s website: Why might my request be refused?
We cannot give you information which is held by other public authorities who are also part of the Scottish criminal justice system but we will suggest who might be able to help you. This includes:

  • the Scottish Government; for
  • legislation
  • prosecution statistics:

You can obtain statistical information about prosecutions from the Scottish Government Justice Department's Court Proceedings Database: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS); for
  • the outcome of a court case
  • sentencing
  • the cost of a trial
  • Scottish Prison Service; for
  • prisoner release dates.

Subject to the statistical data topic COPFS does not provide statistical information for groups of fewer than five and relevant numbers are replaced with an asterisk. Some values of five or more may also be replaced with an asterisk to ensure that no suppressed values can be deduced by subtraction from a total.

COPFS applies this approach, where appropriate, to requests for data such as FOI responses, parliamentary questions and other statistical reports which are published on the COPFS website. This practice best meets the COPFS legal responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation implemented in 2018.  

COPFS should not be providing information that identifies, or potentially allows to be identified, an individual person or some personal information about that individual. The prosecution service can receive separate requests over a period of time for related but slightly different information e.g. by age, sex, location, crime, etc. and for overlapping time periods or geographies. These separate pieces of information taken together for numbers fewer than five could create the potential risk of identifying individuals.

This Scottish justice flowchart will help you decide who to contact for the information you need: Justice Flowchart


You may also find information on our statistics page useful.