Publication - Statistics

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - April 2021

Monthly data report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the justice system in Scotland, including information from Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, and Scottish Prison Service.

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - April 2021
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)

35 page PDF

911.8 kB

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)

Reports received by COPFS

After a crime is classified and a suspect charged, police send a report to the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Total reports received by COPFS recovered to pre-pandemic levels in March 2021.

  • The total number of reports received by COPFS decreased substantially at the beginning of lockdown. Numbers increased to pre-pandemic levels before a substantial decrease in February 2021. Reports in March recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Undertaking report numbers remain higher than 2019-20 levels.
  • Custody report numbers had returned to 2019-20 levels but decreased from August and are now around half of 19-20 average levels.
Chart: All reports received by COPFS (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed line 19-20 average)
Map of Local Authorities with rates above the national average of domestic abuse incidents per 10,000 population.
Chart: Custody reports received by COPFS (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed line 19-20 average)
Line graph showing the total number of reports received by COPFS.
Chart: Undertaking reports received by COPFS (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed line 19-20 average)
Bar chart showing custody reports received by COPFS

First substantive marking

When COPFS receive a report that someone has committed a crime the prosecutor must decide whether and what action to take. This is recorded on the case as a "marking". If a decision cannot be taken immediately, an interim marking may be recorded. When a substantive decision is reached a First Substantive Marking (FSM) is recorded, to indicate how the prosecutor has decided to proceed.

The number of accused given a FSM by COPFS increased substantially in January 2021 but has since decreased to below pre-pandemic levels. After increasing throughout 2020, the number of reports awaiting marking decreased again in early 2021 and is now below 19-20 average levels. The number of reports with an interim marking has been above 19-20 average levels throughout 2020 and into 2021.

Chart: Marking status of COPFS reports (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed lines 19-20 average)
Bar chart showing undertaking reports received by COPFS

Summary of COPFS First Substantive Markings

There are 3 types of marking decision available to COPFS:

  • No Action
  • Direct Measures
  • Court proceedings

Following an increase in all marking types in January 2021, numbers of markings have decreased. Markings for No Action and Direct Measures remain around 19-20 average levels and markings for court are sigificantly below 19-20 average levels.

Chart: First Substantive Marking (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed lines 19-20 average)
Bar graph showing a breakdown of COPFS markings.

Subjects not marked for court

Alternatives to court include diversion, fiscal fines, fixed penalties, community and work orders. Fiscal fine limits were increased as part of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020.

In January 2021, for the first time in 2020-21, the numbers of subjects receiving a Fiscal Fine increased to above 19-20 average levels (dotted lines). This returned to below 19-20 average levels in subsequent months.

The number of subjects given Fiscal fixed penalties increased from May 2020, and remained above 19-20 average levels throughout the end of 2020. Numbers increased to almost double 19-20 average levels in January 2021 before decreasing again but remaining above pre-pandemic levels.

Chart: Subjects not marked for court (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed lines 19-20 average)
Bar graph showing the number of subjects marked for non-court disposals by COPFS.

Subjects marked for court

The type of court proceedings appropriate for a case depends on the nature of the crimes or offences involved. The most serious crimes are marked for solemn proceedings, whilst less serious crimes and offences will be marked for Sheriff Summary or JP courts.

The number of people marked for proceedings in:

  • Solemn court (High Court or Sheriff & Jury) has been at or above 19-20 average levels since April 2020.
  • Sheriff Summary court fell below 19-20 average levels in August and continued to decrease until levels returned to at or near the 19-20 average in early 2021.
  • After a significant increase in January 2021, markings for JP court have returned to below 19-20 average levels in subsequent months.
Chart: Subjects marked for court (bars – monthly count March 2020 to April 2021, dashed lines 19-20 average)
Bar graph showing the number of subjects marked for different court proceedings by month.

Fatal Accident Inquiries (as of 04 May 2021)

FAIs with scheduled court dates 34
FAIs with First Notice lodged, awaiting court dates: 1

Source:
Data in this section has come from COPFS Internal Management Information System.


Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot