Information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services data report- February 2021

This report provides information on the impact of COVID-19 on the Justice system during February 2021.

This document is part of a collection


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 fell in February 2021.

  • The total number of reports received by COPFS decreased substantially at the beginning of lockdown. Since that time numbers have been gradually increasing and now sit around 19-20 average levels. There has been an decrease in the number of reports received since January 2021.
  • Undertaking report numbers remain higher than 2019-20 levels, although these too have been decreasing over recent months.
  • Custody report numbers had returned to 2019-20 levels but decreased from August and are now less than half of 19-20 average levels.
Line graph showing the total number of 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 the early part of January 2021 but returned to 19-20 average levels by the end of February.

The number of reports awaiting marking is now significantly below 19-20 average levels. The number of reports with an interim marking remains significantly above 19- 20 average levels.

Line graph showing COPFS markings.

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, all marking types decreased in February 2021. Markings for No Action and Direct Measures remain above 19-20 average levels and markings for court are slightly below 19-20 average levels.

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). In February 2021 this fell back to just below the 19-20 average.

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 but decreased again in February 2021.

Subjects marked
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 the 19-20 average in early 2021.
  • After a significant increase in January 2021, markings for JP court fell back to below 19-20 average levels in February.
Subjects marked
Bar graph showing the number of subjects marked for different court proceedings by month.

Fatal Accident Enquiries (as of 01 March 2021)

FAIs with scheduled court dates 40

FAIs with First Notice lodged, awaiting court dates: 0

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

Contact

Email: Justice_Analysts@gov.scot

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