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Prosecution Policy and Guidance

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Prosecution Policy and Guidance

Book of  Regulations

Prosecution policy and guidance is only published where its publication would not, or would not be likely to, prejudice substantially the prevention or detection of crime; the apprehension or prosecution of offenders; or the administration of justice. Prejudice may include allowing offenders to circumvent the law by restricting their offending to conduct which falls short of a prosecution threshold or, for example, a threshold which determines the prosecution forum.

Chapter 1 - General: This section withdrawn (September 2015)

pdfChapter 2 - Investigation of Serious Crime533.12 KB

Chapter 3 - Case marking: This section withdrawn

Chapter 4 - Precognition and Management Solemn Business

Chapter 5 - Productions

pdfChapter 6 - Solemn Procedure102.15 KB

pdfChapter 7 - Summary Procedure184.06 KB

pdfChapter 8 - Bail - This sections withdrawn (July 2012)

pdfChapter 9 - Sentencing81 KB

pdfChapter 10 - Compensation by Offenders: Currently under review

pdfChapter 11 - Appeals768.9 KB

Chapter 12 - Deaths: This section withdrawn

pdfChapter 13 - Ultimus Haeres72.79 KB

pdfChapter 14 - Specialities of Jurisdiction163.64 KB

Chapter 15 - Mental Disorder: This section withdrawn (April 2014)

pdfChapter 16 - Children156.38 KB

pdfChapter 16 - Annex 4A 177.89 KB

pdfChapter 17 - Confidentiality Disclosure and Relations with the Media326.54 KB

Chapter 18 - Armed Forced: This section withdrawn (May 2017)

pdfChapter 19 - Admin and Miscellaneous967.64 KB

pdfChapter 20 - Proceeds of Crime61.86 KB

pdfChapter 21 - Reporting to Crown Office (September 2018)

Chapter 22 - Victims Next of Kin and Witnesses: This section withdrawn (October 2013)

pdfChapter 23 - Plea Adjustment86.9 KB 

 pdfJoint Domestic Abuse Protocol




Crown Office Circular

pdf1 2007edited - Fire Scotland Act 200542.17 KB

In order to modernise the fire and rescue services, the Act largely replaces the Fire Services Acts of 1947 and 1959 providing for the constitution of joint fire and rescue boards.


pdf 3 2008 - Book of Regulations - Updating and FOI considerations79.56 KB

Clarifies, with regard to the principles of freedom of information, the responsibilities of members of staff who draft new or additional material for the Book of Regulations.


pdf19 2001 - Fire Investigations13.14 KB

HM Fire Service Inspectorate for Scotland has indicated a willingness to offer their services to Procurators Fiscal in cases involving fire investigations where it is considered necessary to obtain expert advice independent of the witnesses from the Brigade which dealt with a particular fire investigation.


pdfGeneral Minute to Legal Staff - 1 05 - Test Purchasing by Children and Persons under 18 years old180.87 KB

Advises all legal staff that after careful consideration the Lord Advocate concluded that the test purchasing of age restricted goods, should be rolled out on a national basis.




Disclosure Manual

The manual contains a statement of national disclosure practice which must be followed by all staff in COPFS. This will ensure effective and consistent disclosure practice in all cases across Scotland. This Version December 2014

pdfDisclosure Manual Contents35.56 KB 

pdfChapter 1.Introduction12.08 KB

pdfChapter 2: Disclosure Duty on the Crown: Overview43.09 KB

pdfChapter 3: The Obligation of the Police and Other Investigating Agencies to Submit Relevant Information to the Crown37.95 KB

pdfChapter 4: Witness Statements43.22 KB

pdfChapter 5: Criminal History Records18.15 KB

pdfChapter 6: Productions40.78 KB

pdfChapter 7: Disclosure of Information Prior to First Appearance24.23 KB

pdfChapter 8: Procedures for Requesting & Disclosing Statements and Criminal History Records: General21.33 KB

pdfChapter 9: Procedures for Requesting and Disclosing Statements & Criminal History Records: Summary Cases33.2 KB

pdfChapter 10: Procedures for Disclosure of Statements and Criminal History Records: Solemn Cases36.13 KB

pdfChapter 11: Transmission of Disclosure Information20.87 KB

pdfChapter 12: List of Witnesses15.37 KB

pdfChapter 13: Witness Statements: General38.68 KB

pdfChapter 14: Witness Statements: Format & Content16.08 KB

pdfChapter 15: Witness Statements: Redaction29.54 KB

pdfChapter 16: Schedules of Relevant Information in Solemn Proceedings50.98 KB

pdfChapter 17: Criminal History Records: General31.44 KB

pdfChapter 18: Criminal History Records: Content23.13 KB

pdfChapter 19: Criminal History Records: Redaction34.37 KB

pdfChapter 20: Criminal History Records: Police Officers15.38 KB

pdfChapter 21: Redacted Statements in High Court Cases10.84 KB

pdfChapter 22: Requesting & Disclosing Productions 29.53 KB

pdfChapter 23: Disclosure to the Unrepresented Accused45.38 KB

pdfChapter 24: Disclosure of Information obtained during a CAAP Investigation50.89 KB

pdfChapter 25: Sensitive & Intelligence Information41.25 KB

pdfChapter 26: Appeals44.98 KB

pdfChapter 27: Review of Disclosure14.34 KB

pdfChapter 28: Auditing of Disclosure Practices13.02 KB

pdfChapter 29: Redaction of Productions 19.27 KB

pdfChapter 30: Assistance by Offenders – Disclosure Obligations26.32 KB

pdfChapter 31: The Disclosure Page 55.64 KB

pdfChapter 32: Automatic Disclosure of Information26.23 KB

pdfChapter 33: Disclosure and VIA13.55 KB

pdfChapter 34: The Non-Sensitive Schedule39.67 KB

pdfChapter 35: The Sensitive Schedule35.36 KB

pdfChapter 36: The Highly Sensitive Schedule24.54 KB

pdfChapter 37: Considering Information for Disclosure in Solemn Proceedings49.25 KB

pdfChapter 38: Disclosure FOS Reports17.87 KB

pdfChapter 39: Debates, Applications for Court Rulings, Compatibility Issues and Petitions for Recovery62.44 KB

pdfChapter 40: Professional Misconduct - Investigating Agencies34.94 KB

pdfChapter 41: Fatal Accident Inquiries & Disclosure 25.24 KB

pdfChapter 42: Defence Statements 31.78 KB

pdfChapter 43: Double Jeopardy 30.39 KB

pdfChapter 44: Large and Complex cases105.49 KB




Guidelines and Policy

pdfPolicy on recovering sensitive personal records

This policy provides general guidance on the approach which should be adopted when considering the issue of recovery of sensitive personal records as part of the COPFS investigation.

pdfInformation for witnesses: Defence recovery of sensitive personal records

pdfInformation for witnesses: Defence recovery of sensitive personal records (Easy Read version)

This leaflet explains why the accused person’s solicitor is seeking to obtain all or part of your medical, social work or other personal records during a criminal case and how this information may be used.

pdfInformation for witnesses: Police prosecution recovery of sensitive personal records

This leaflet explains why the police or the prosecutor may need to obtain all or part of your medical, social work or other personal records during a criminal case and how this information may be used.

Easy Read documents

pdfInformation for witnesses: Defence recovery of sensitive personal records (Easy read document)

pdfInformation for witnesses: Police and prosecution recovery of sensitive personal records (Easy read document)

pdfProsecution Code
This Prosecution Code sets out the criteria for decision making and the range of options available to prosecutors dealing with reports of crime.
pdfInterim Joint Guidance between the Police Service of Scotland and The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service on the Investigation, Reporting and Prosecution of Offences of Forced Marriage

This guidance is Interim Joint Guidance between COPFS and the Police Service of Scotland on the investigation, reporting and prosecution of offences relating to forced marriage. It is acknowledged by COPFS and the Police Service of Scotland that there are complex issues that surround forced marriage and this guidance sets out the approach which will be taken by both organisations in investigation and prosecution of these cases and also ensures that the concerns of victims and witnesses will be considered carefully throughout the Criminal Justice Process. Prior to finalising this guidance COPFS and Police Scotland would welcome the views of those organisations or individuals who have an interest in the law and its implementation. If there is any feedback or are any suggestions regarding the Guidance then please forward them on either by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or in writing to 'Joint Guidance on Forced Marriage Consultation, Policy Division, Crown Office, 25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LA
pdfTransgender Policy and pdfEuro Ct HR Fact sheet on Gender identity issues

New Guidance to assist prosecutors deal with cases involving a Transgender accused generally and specifically where it is alleged a transgender accused has committed a sexual offence involving non disclosure of their birth gender. Further information on the Transgender community can be accessed at:
pdfGuidance on the approach of COPFS to reporting by businesses of bribery offences

The Crown is commited to encouraging good corporate governance and to creating a corporate culture in which bribery is not hidden. As such the Lord Advocate has approved an initiative for businesses to “self-report” bribery offences. This is a "self-reporting" guide. Updated June 2020.
pdfProsecution policy on the sexual transmission of infection

Prosecution policy for cases involving the intentional or reckless transmission of, or exposure to, sexual infection. The policy aims to provide guidance to prosecutors and to the public in general about this area of the law.
pdfReports to the Procurator Fiscal - A Guide for Specialist Reporting Agencies

The aim of this publication is to provide advice for specialist reporting agencies which will enable them to contribute effectively to achieving an outcome in reported cases which best serves the public interest.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Greening Government Policy is to ensure continuous environmental improvement by reducing the impact of our operations on the environment.
 pdfSpecialist Reporting Agencies Secure Web Site Application

Many SRAs use a secure e-mail system, allowing the transmission of Standard Prosecution Reports (SPR) and
ancillary documents over secure communication lines.
COPFS revised policy on dealing with reluctant complainers in cases of rape and other serious sexual offending

The briefing note has been put on the COPFS website in relation to the COPFS’ revised prosecution policy in relation to reluctant complainers in cases of rape and other serious sexual offending. This provides an overview of the policy and how it will be implemented, the background to and reasons for the introduction of the revised policy and our commitment to ongoing work, with criminal justice partners and others, to improve the justice response to violence against women and girls.
Victims' Right To Review -  Please be aware that from 1 July 2015, you, as a victim of crime in Scotland, have the right to a review of a decision by us not to prosecute, made on or after 1 July 2015. You should if possible apply for a review within one month of the date you are informed of our decision not to prosecute. Generally you would be told of the review decision within 20 working days.
pdfGuidance on cases involving Communications sent via Social Media

Guidance is now available to prosecutors on the approach to be taken to cases involving communications sent via social media. This categorises offences into those where, for public safety reasons, a strong presumption in favour of prosecutorial action applies and clarifies that for other communications a high threshold applies before prosecutorial action will be taken, recognising Convention rights to freedom of expression
pdfCode of Practice - Disclosure of Evidence in Criminal Proceedings

The Code of Practice provides guidance in relation to the disclosure of evidence in criminal proceedings. Police forces, prosecutors and other investigating agencies, as prescribed by regulations, must have regard to the code in carrying out their functions in relation to the investigation, reporting and prosecution of crime and sudden deaths. 
pdfCultural Awareness Guide

COPFS Cultural Awareness Guide regarding Faith and religion, Culture and Traditions, Festivals and Holy days, Communication and History. 
Guidance booklet for expert witnessess

This booklet has been created to provide guidance to expert witnesses concerning the role of an expert witness and also about their obligations in relation to disclosure.
pdfGuidance to Specialist Reporting Agencies - Disclosure of Evidence in Criminal proceedings

The Crown in Scotland is obliged to disclose all relevant and material evidence to the defence. This duty arises from Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. To ensure that the Crown can comply with its disclosure obligations, all agencies who report cases to the Crown must comply with obligations to disclose relevant and material information to the Crown. See also: Annex A - Example Schedule (Doc)
Our Commitments to Victims and Prosecution Witnesses

This booklet is for victims and prosecution witnesses, but it will also be useful for parents of child witnesses, carers of witnesses with extra needs and family members in cases involving death. 


Lord Advocate's Guidelines

Lord Advocate’s Guidelines or prosecution policy and guidance is only published where its publication would not, or would not be likely to, prejudice substantially the prevention or detection of crime; the apprehension or prosecution of offenders; or the administration of justice. Prejudice may include allowing offenders to circumvent the law by restricting their offending to conduct which falls short of a prosecution threshold or, for example, a threshold which determines the prosecution forum.


pdfLord Advocate's Guidelines - Legal Professional Privilege

This document contains guidelines on material that may be subject to Legal Professional Privilege (LPP).
Lord Advocate’s Guidelines on the Detention, Treatment and Questioning of Persons under Section 41 and Schedule 8 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and Section 23 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008

These Guidelines provide guidance to the Police where consideration is being given to extend the period of detention / delay access to solicitor / question a suspect post-charge, under the Terrorism Act 2006.
pdfLord Advocates Guidelines offences committed by children 

This document contains guidance to police officers in Scotland on the categories of offence which require to be jointly reported to the Procurator Fiscal and the Children’s Reporter

Revised Lord Advocate’s Guidelines on Liberation have been published to reflect the approach to be taken in the current circumstances.

pdfLord Advocate’s Guidelines - Liberation by the police COVID-19 or Coronavirus

These Lord Advocate’s Guidelines direct Police Scotland on the approach to take regarding individuals who are in Police custody having been arrested during the period of disruption caused by COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

These guidelines will be active from the 20th March 2020 until the end of the disruption, and will remain under review in order to respond to the changing circumstances. During this period these guidelines replace the Lord Advocate’s Guidelines on Liberation by the Police.

pdfLord Advocate's Guidelines - Investigation of Road Traffic deaths

This document contains guidance to the Chief Constable in the investigation and reporting of road traffic deaths.
pdfLord Advocate's Guidelines - Search and Seizure and Retention of Property

These Guidelines are issued by the Lord Advocate under Section 127R of Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. They are designed to ensure clarity for officers as to the exercise of the powers of search, seizure and retention and the circumstances in which the seizure of property requires to be reported to Crown Office Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU).

New powers, set out in the Policing and Crime Act 2009, have been introduced in Scotland to provide for search, seizure and continued retention of property with a view to ensuring that property is available for confiscation at the conclusion of criminal proceedings.  The powers may be exercised whether or not a restraint order is in place. 
pdfProsecution Guidance in Relation to Same Sex Marriage13.35 KB

Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal’s Service recognise the sensitivity of the issues and the strength of opinion surrounding same sex marriage
pdfIncidents and Sporting Events.20.97 KB

Lord Advocate Guidelines to Chief Constables regarding Incidents between sportmen during Sporting Event Especially those in front of large crowds or televised to the public.
pdfAntisocial Behaviour Orders - October 2004.15.97 KB

Guidance to Police about reporting of cases involving a breach of an Antisocial Behaviour order.
Lord Advocate's Guidelines on Offending at Football - June 2018 
This is a guide to the Act. The objective of the offences provided for in this Act is to tackle sectarian hatred and other offensive and threatening behaviour related to football matches and to prevent the communication of threatening material, particularly where it incites religious hatred.  
pdf Citation of Witnesses. 15.48 KB

Guidelines to Police on procedures to be followed in the citation of witnesses for attendance at court. 
pdfConduct of Visual Identification Parades - February 2007133.12 KB

"Identification Procedures" comprise of witnesses being given the opportunity to identify a suspect or accused persons visually in either a video identification parade, identification parade or related procedure.
pdfDriver Improvement Scheme - April 200731.81 KB

Guidelines to police regarding this scheme. The purpose of the scheme is to provide an alternative to prosecution for drivers charged with a contravention of the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 3 (careless driving).
pdfEnforcement of soliciting and loitering offences by purchasers.36.43 KB

The Prostitution (Public Places) Scotland Act 2007 criminalises the act of a purchaser who attempts to engage in prostitution. These Guidelines are intended to provide guidance on the available enforcement options and prescribe minimum enforcement criteria
pdfInvestigation and Reporting of Racist Crime 2 - January 2002.81.72 KB

This consolidated document provides guidance to the police in relation to issues of reporting of racist crime.
pdfNew Generation Breath Test Devices22.91 KB

This guidance takes into account the amendment of section 7 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and type approval of new generation breath test devices by the Secretary of State for Scotland on 18 August 2014.Please see also the letter from the Crown Agent to the Law Society of Scotland of November 2014 regarding the introduction of reduced Drink Drive limits on 5 December 2014 pdfLetter from the Crown Agent to the Law Society of Scotland44.4 KB
pdfOffences Aggravated by Prejudice.38.45 KB

Guidelines on Offences Aggravated by Prejudice Incorporating - Offences Aggravated by Religious Prejudice -  Offences aggravated by prejudice related to disability, Offences aggravated by prejudice related to sexual orientation or transgender identity.
pdfPolice and the media

Amended Guidelines issues 1983 - Regarding the communication with the Media and the possible contempt of court implications. 
These guidelines are intended to provide assistance to police officers as to the approach to be taken, in the context of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), in connection with the liberation of offenders by Police Scotland. They provide a framework within which police officers may exercise a degree of discretion as to the appropriate course of action in each case.

Guidelines issued by the Lord Advocate to the Chief Constable concerning liberation of offenders by police relating to the 26th UN climate change conference of the parties ("COP26") to be held 31 October 2021 – 12 November 2021
pdfProviding Information on Vulnerable Adult Witnesses - March 2007. 146.27 KB

The Act aims to improve conditions for vulnerable witnesses by increasing the number of support measures available to help them participate more fully in criminal and civil proceedings. It also extends the definition of ‘vulnerable witness’ to include adult witnesses where there is a significant risk that the quality of their evidence will be diminished through fear or distress.




Protocols/Memorandum of Understanding

pdfAgreement on the Sharing of Evidence and Information Between the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Police Service of Scotland

COPFS has agreed a protocol with the SCRA agreeing the process for exchange of information in terms of sections 172 and 179 of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 between SCRA and COPFS.
pdfJoint Domestic Abuse Protocol

Having regard to the seriousness of domestic abuse, this Protocol has been agreed in order to Identify best practice and obtain consistency of approach in the investigation, reporting and prosecution of these cases, with a view to improving the service we provide to the public.
Working together for victims and witnesses

This Protocol has been agreed between COPFS, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Victim Support Scotland and Police Scotland. It governs how we will share information, sets out guidance on arranging court visits and default special measures for children in solemn cases. In September 2017 the Protocol was updated to ensure that there is an agreed process between COPFS and SCTS for communicating where a victim or witness would benefit from additional arrangements at court. Please note that this protocol applies to cases reported on or after 1 September 2015.
pdfCMA MOU Scotland.pdf65.32 KB

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) records the basis on which the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) will cooperate to investigate and/or prosecute individuals in respect of the cartel offence established by the Enterprise Act (EA02) where such an offence may have been committed within the jurisdiction of the Scottish Courts. The CMA and COPFS will keep this MOU under review in the light of future experience of its operation in practice.
pdfForensic Pathologist Consultation Protocol

Code of Practice and Performance Standards for Forensic Pathologists dealing with suspicious deaths in Scotland: Scottish Government, COPFS and the Royal College of Pathologists - 2016 version. The Code of Practice is supplemented by the protocol which outlines commitments on the part of forensic pathologists (October 2018).
pdfMemorandum of Understanding between the Scottish Information Commissioner and COPFS and Police Scotland3.36 MB

This MOU will ensure that there is a clear understanding of the various roles and responsibilities of each organisation during the investigation of any of these offences.
pdfOperational Protocol between Victim Information and Advice Scottish Court Service and the Witness Service137.95 KB

This protocol replaces the existing  COPFS /WS protocol dated June 2007 and incorporates the SCS in a new tripartite protocol. This also incorporates the COPFS /SCS Joint Statement on Crown witnesses.
pdfProtocol - COPFS UKBA October 200933.31 KB

Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service & UK Border Agency Joint Protocol for the submission, processing and monitoring of Prosecution Reports for immigration offence and ensure we meet the high standards deserved and expected by the public.
pdfDisclosure of Evidential Material in Criminal Prosecutions - Scottish Police and COPFS159.65 KB

Service Wide Agreement between the Scottish Police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service of Business Rules for the disclosure to the defence of statements, previous convictions and outstanding charges
pdfWork Related Deaths - Liaison among COPFS and Health and Safety Executive ACPOS British Transport Police

This protocol sets out the principles for effective liaison among the parties in relation to work-related
deaths in Scotland. In particular, it deals with incidents where, following a death, evidence indicates that a serious criminal offence other than a health and safety offence may have been committed
pdfAllocation and Management of Facilities for Taking Evidence by Live TV Links36.78 KBThis protocol sets out the principles within which  those involved in relevant applications to court will operate to ensure the smooth and effective conduct of proceedings involving the giving of Live TV evidence by children.
pdfInstruction of Interpreters for Criminal Court Diets - COPFS SCS ACPOS50.39 KB

The protocol is intended to cover the instruction of community, foreign and sign language interpreters (and other interpreters required for those with sensory impairment).
pdfProtocol - Court Management and Preparation of Cases - COPFS SCS21.77 KB

The effective and efficient prosecution of criminal cases in the Sheriff Courts and the disposal of criminal business in these courts is dependent on a close and integrated approach to the management of court business by the Scottish Court Service and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
pdfProtocol - Programming and Management of Solemn and Summary Criminal Cases COPFS SCS19.7 KB 

Liaison and Exchange of Management Information for Sheriff Court business between the Scottish Court Service and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
pdfProtocol - Witness Citation Targets - COPFS ACPOS10.77 KB

To improve the quality of service to witnesses the efficiency of business in court. 
pdfFamily Liaison Protocol - COPFS ACPOS62.73 KB

Family Liaison is the process through which the Police and Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) work together to provide victims and bereaved nearest relatives with information and support during certain major investigations which may lead to criminal or other proceedings.
pdfSummary for Submission Processing and Monitoring of Prosecution Reports - COPFS SEPA22.52 KB 

COPFS and SEPA are committed to ensuring effective liaison so that reports from SEPA achieve the best outcome for the environment and the public interest
pdfSubmission Processing and Monitoring of Prosecution Reports - COPFS and SEPA49.27 KB

This Protocol has been agreed between COPFS and SEPA to set out the framework for effective liaison, communication and co-operation in the investigation and prosecution of environmental crime.
pdfRevised Joint ACPOS COPFS Family Liaison Protocol62.67 KB

Following a review of the Joint ACPOS / COPFS Family Liaison Protocol, the Crown Agent and ACPOS have approved the launch of a revised Joint Protocol, “In Partnership Managing Family Liaison” 
National Protocol for the Police Service of Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and Child Protection Committees

National Protocol for the Police Service of Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and Child Protection Committees to assist with Liaison and the Exchange of Information when there are simultaneous Significant Case Reviews and criminal proceedings, a Fatal Accident Inquiry or investigations with a view to such proceedings. A link to the full document and associated annexes can be found here.