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Scottish Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13

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Chapter 15 Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

PORTFOLIO RESPONSIBILITIES

The overarching responsibility of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) is to serve the public interest, prosecuting cases independently, fairly and effectively.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service provides Scotland's independent public prosecution and deaths investigation service. The Lord Advocate's position as head

of the systems of criminal prosecution and investigation of deaths is enshrined in the Scotland Act.

COPFS has 3 main functions:

  • the investigation and prosecution of crime;
  • the investigation of sudden or suspicious deaths; and
  • the investigation of complaints of criminal conduct against the police.

Our objectives are:

  • to deliver swift, effective justice, giving priority to serious crime, including sexual offending, serious violence, organised crime and drug trafficking;
  • to work with the police, local communities and others to solve problems caused by persistent offending, helping people live their lives free from crime, disorder and danger;
  • to ensure that all deaths reported to the Procurator Fiscal are investigated appropriately;
  • to provide services that meet the information needs of victims, witnesses and nearest relatives, in cooperation with other agencies; and
  • to respect and protect diversity and to promote tolerance.

SUPPORTING RECOVERY AND INCREASING SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH

An effective, independent prosecution service is essential to the achievement of sustainable economic growth because it is fundamental to Scotland as an attractive place to do business. Our work and achievements in targeting serious crime and in targeting and disrupting serious and organised crime in Scotland over recent years is of particular note in this context.

OUR NATIONAL OUTCOMES

While our functions and objectives contribute directly to the National Outcome We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger, our work contributes to most of the National Outcomes and to the achievement of the government's Purpose. In particular, support of the government's manifesto commitments is provided by: our contribution to disrupting serious and organised crime in Scotland; our targeting of knife crime, domestic violence, hate crime, drug misuse and youth crime; and our work supporting victims - all of which are designed to prevent adverse economic and social impacts.

OUR ACHIEVEMENTS

All the services we deliver protect victims of crime from further harm from perpetrators; ensure justice and safer environments for individuals and communities; and contribute towards responses to deep-seated problems such as those associated with knife crime, domestic violence, hate crime, drug misuse and youth crime. COPFS is an operational front-line delivery organisation without which the criminal justice system would not function.

In 2010-11 all COPFS performance targets were exceeded.

Business AreaTargetPerformance
Bail Cases: Serve Indictment
Serve 80% in nine monthsHigh Court
94%
Serve 80% in eight monthsSheriff and Jury90%
Take/Implement
Decision
Process 75% within four weeks86%
Investigation of DeathsInvestigate 80% within 12 weeks88%
Complaints against the police
Close in 12 weeks - 90% of cases92%

Confiscation orders secured by the Serious and Organised Crime Division totalled £16.5 million in 2010-11 bringing the total over the last eight years to £35.9 million while Civil Recoveries totalled £9.3 million in 2010-11 bringing the total over the past eight years to £22.8 million.

MANAGING PRESSURES AND CUTS IN PUBLIC EXPENDITURE

Pressures that COPFS will face over the Spending Review period include:

  • continuing to deliver current or improved standards of service with fewer staff;
  • pay;
  • increasing contract costs such as post mortems and rent;
  • potential increases in the number of solemn cases if the law on corroboration alters as a result of the Carloway Review;
  • implementing any further changes arising as a result of legislative or case law alterations; and
  • responding to changes in police and Scottish Court Service structures and capability.

Dealing with these pressures has demanded, and will continue to demand, tough decisions.

OUR PRIORITIES

Our main priority will be to maintain operational delivery in what we recognise is a very challenging financial context. Our main functions will continue to be:

  • the investigation and prosecution of crime;
  • the investigation of sudden or suspicious deaths; and
  • the investigation of complaints of criminal conduct against the police.

Operational delivery will include:

  • The prosecution of serious, complex and organised crime, whether in the High Court or before a sheriff and jury, including the prosecution of terrorism, murder, serious assaults, sexual offences, drug and people trafficking, fraud and organised crime and recovering the proceeds of crime.
  • Efficient and timely action in respect of summary casework, which comprises in numerical terms the large majority of the 280,000 crime reports submitted each year. These cases relate to offending behaviour that would not attract a disposal at jury court level but merits imposition of a direct measure or prosecution in the justice of the peace and sheriff courts without a jury.
  • The investigation of deaths, discharging the public function to investigate relevant categories of deaths promptly, appropriately and with sensitivity to the needs of the bereaved.
  • the support of victims of crime and vulnerable witnesses.

Capital expenditure will primarily be invested in maintaining and, where possible, improving our information technology systems to increase case-processing efficiency.

Spending plans for 2012-15 are set out below.

Table 15.01: Detailed Spending Plans (Level 2)

2011-12
Budget
£m
2012-13
Draft Budget
£m
2013-14
Plans
£m
2014-15
Plans
£m
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service108.2108.1108.1108.7
Total Level 2108.2108.1108.1108.7
of which:
DEL Resource
105.5104.5104.5105.1
DEL Capital
2.73.63.63.6
AME
----

Table 15.02: Detailed Spending Plans (Level 2 real terms) at 2011-12 prices

2011-12
Budget
£m
2012-13
Draft Budget
£m
2013-14
Plans
£m
2014-15
Plans
£m
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service108.2105.5102.7100.5
Total Level 2108.2105.5102.7100.5
of which:
DEL Resource
105.5102.099.397.2
DEL Capital
2.73.53.43.3
AME
----

Table 15.03: More detailed categories of spending (Level 3)

2011-12
Budget
£m
2012-13
Draft Budget
£m
2013-14
Plans
£m
2014-15
Plans
£m
Staff Costs
69.067.267.167.1
Office Costs
4.44.44.44.4
Case Related
12.112.512.813.1
Centrally Managed Costs20.020.420.220.5
Capital Expenditure2.73.63.63.6
Total108.2108.1108.1108.7
of which:
DEL Resource
105.5104.5104.5105.1
DEL Capital
2.73.63.63.6
AME
----

What the budget does

COPFS is the sole public prosecution authority in Scotland. It is responsible for making decisions about, and bringing prosecutions for, all criminal offences. COPFS also has the duty to investigate all sudden, suspicious or unexplained deaths and is responsible for deciding whether criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry should be held and for conducting such proceedings and inquiries.

Responsibility for investigating complaints against the police, involving allegations of criminal conduct, rests with the Area Procurators Fiscal. Prosecution of police officers is undertaken on the instruction of Crown Counsel.

The Serious and Organised Crime Division and Civil Recovery Unit investigate and recover proceeds of drug trafficking and other serious crime.

COPFS also provides a Victim Information and Advice service across Scotland.

COPFS works closely with its criminal justice partners to help make Scotland a safer place and plays a pivotal role in maintaining the security and confidence of all communities of Scotland in the justice system, making the system more accessible and responsive.

The key aims of COPFS are to:

  • secure the confidence of Scotland's diverse communities by improving the delivery of justice through the timely, efficient and effective prosecution of crime;
  • give priority to prosecution of serious crime, including serious and organised crime, drugs trafficking, serious violence and sexual crimes and persistent offenders;
  • provide services that meet the information needs of victims, witnesses and next of kin, in co-operation with other agencies; and
  • ensure that all deaths reported to the Procurator Fiscal are investigated appropriately and speedily.

In this way, COPFS contributes to a safer and stronger Scotland by ensuring that cases are brought to a conclusion in the most appropriate way, as quickly as possible. By tackling crime quickly and using a range of measures appropriate for specific offences, the COPFS portfolio will help to reduce crime and the fear of crime, improve the conditions which support economic development and social capital in communities, and enhance the quality of life of all Scottish people.