Publication - Progress report

The Coronavirus (Extension And Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021: report to the Scottish Parliament (September 2021)

Published: 3 Sep 2021

This report gives effect to duties in the Coronavirus (Extension and Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021 for Scottish Ministers to report on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including measures on marriage ceremonies and civil partnerships, support for businesses and a range of other policy areas.

The Coronavirus (Extension And Expiry) (Scotland) Act 2021: report to the Scottish Parliament (September 2021)
7. Section 5(1)(c) - the use of fiscal fines

7. Section 5(1)(c) - the use of fiscal fines

7.1 Section 5(1)(c) of the Extension and Expiry Act requires the Scottish Ministers to report on the use of fiscal fines during the period beginning on 7 April 2020 and ending on the day of Royal Assent.

7.2 Section 5(2)(f)(i) and (ii) of the Extension and Expiry Act sets out the particular information the report should include in relation to use of fiscal fines, namely:

  • the numbers of fiscal fines issued for each level on the scale during the period beginning on 7 April 2020 and ending on the day of Royal Assent, which is 4 August 2021; and
  • the numbers of fiscal fines issued for each level of the scale in the period ending on 6 April 2020 which is of the same length as the period mentioned in subsection 5(1)(c). Accordingly, this period comprises 9 December 2018 to 6 April 2020.

Background

7.3 Section 1(2) and (3) of the Extension and Expiry Act extended the expiry of the provisions in Part 1 of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 ("the 2020 Act") from 30 September 2021 to 31 March 2022 and conferred on the Scottish Ministers a power to further extend the date on which the provisions in Part 1 of that Act expire to 30 September 2022.

7.4 The modifications in law to the justice system to which the extension period applies is set out in Schedule 4 of the 2020 Act.

7.5 Paragraph 7 of Schedule 4 of the 2020 Act amended section 302 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 raising the maximum level of conditional offer of a fixed penalty which may be offered by prosecutors (generally referred to as a "fiscal fine") from £300 to £500.

7.6 Paragraph 7 also introduced a new fiscal fine scale to give practical effect to this measure. The new scale introduced by the 2020 Act contains seven fine levels, ranging from £50 to £500. The previous scale prescribed by the schedule of SSI 2008/108 (which is still in force and is only temporarily modified by paragraph 7) contains seven fine levels ranging from £50 to £300.

7.7 The increase in fiscal fine levels has enabled alternative action to prosecution to be taken in a wider range of summary cases, where such action is assessed as appropriate by prosecutors. In accordance with the revised policy guidance issued by the Lord Advocate in relation to fiscal fines, prosecutors have been directed to first consider offering a Direct Measure, in particular, a fiscal fine, in relation to appropriate cases which would otherwise have proceeded in the Justice of the Peace Court.

7.8 It is considered that the higher levels of fiscal fine can continue to make a useful contribution to the "Recover, Renew, Transform" programme for the justice system post-pandemic, by enabling a wider range of cases to continue being dealt with by fiscal fine, thereby reducing the burden on the system by allowing criminal courts to deal with more serious offending behaviour and continue responding to the backlog of cases during a time of significant resource pressure created by the impact of the pandemic, which is expected to last for a number of years beyond the lifting of restrictions on court business which were imposed in response to the pandemic.

Use of fiscal fines

7.9 The below tableprovides the number of individuals who have been offered a fiscal fine for each level on the scale as amended by the 2020 Act during the period 7 April 2020 to 4 August 2021.

Fiscal Fine Level

Total

FF Level 1 - £50

6,772

FF Level 2 - £125

6,022

FF Level 3 - £175

2,960

FF Level 4 - £250

1,732

FF Level 5 - £325

352

FF Level 6 - £400

127

FF Level 7 - £500

50

Total

18,015

7.10 Rows shaded in grey show fines above the previous maximum of £300, as introduced by the 2020 Act.

7.11 The below tableprovides the number of individuals who were offered a fiscal fine for each level on the previous scale during the period 9 December 2018 to 6 April 2020.

Fiscal Fine Level

Total

FF Level 1 - £50

289

FF Level 2 - £75

10,968

FF Level 3 - £100

4,108

FF Level 4 - £150

6,653

FF Level 5 - £200

2,516

FF Level 6 - £250

432

FF Level 7 - £300

308

Total

25,274


Contact

Email: Jamie.begbie@gov.scot