Coronavirus (COVID-19): Justice Analytical Services Data Report - November 2020

Sixth release of a 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.

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 now exceed last year’s average levels.

  • 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 above 19-20 average 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 at around half of 19-20 average levels.
Reports Received
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 wether 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 has returned to pre-lockdown levels. However the number of unmarked and interim marked cases (work in progress) continues to increase beyond pre COVID levels.

Number of reports
Bar graph showing a breakdown of COPFS markings.

Summary of COPFS First Substantive Markings

There are 3 types of marking decision available to COPFS:

  • No Action
  • Direct Measures
  • Court proceedings

Cases marked No Action were higher than 19-20 average levels during the intial lockdown period but have stabilised at just below last year’a average levels.

Number of cases
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.

The numbers of subjects receiving a Fiscal Fine have generally remained below 19-20 average levels (dotted lines) since April 2020.

The number of subjects given Fiscal fixed penalties increased from May, reaching a high in September. Numbers have decreased since that time but remain above 19-20 average levels.

Subjects marked
Bar graph showing the number of subjects marked for different court proceedings by month.

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 higher than 19-20 average levels from April 2020.
  • Sheriff Summary court fell below 19-20 average levels in August and has been decreasing since that time.
  • JP Court remains significantly below 19-20 average levels.
Subjects marked
Bar graph showing the number of subjects marked for non-court disposals by COPFS.

Fatal Accident Enquiries

(as of 30 November 2020)

  • FAIs with scheduled court dates 38
  • FAIs with First Notice lodged, awaiting court dates: 2


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



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