5 Main findings: non-court disposals
5.1 Changes were introduced as a result of the Criminal Proceedings Act 2007 and these were collectively known as Summary Justice Reform. They were designed to take less serious cases out of the justice system at an earlier stage, and to improve the efficiency of court processes.
5.2 In 2007-08 a range of options became available to the police for dealing with minor offences. This included anti-social behaviour fixed penalty notices (ASBFPNs) and formal adult warnings for crimes such as breach of the peace, urinating, consuming alcohol in a public place, and for minor driving offences.
5.3 Prosecution in court is only one of a range of options available for dealing with people who have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal. Procurator Fiscals have had long standing powers to issue fiscal fines as an alternative to court prosecution for a range of offences and to offer a conditional offer of a fixed penalty to offenders for speeding offences and other road traffic related offences.
5.4 In 2007-08, following a review of the summary criminal justice system, the Scottish Parliament provided prosecutors with powers to issue an enhanced range of fiscal fines and to award compensation to victims, through fiscal compensation orders. Collectively these non-court prosecution options are known as direct measures and are used to deal with less serious offences.
5.5 In 2010-11, the majority of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service's (COPFS) non-court disposals were fiscal fines, followed by fiscal road traffic fixed penalties. The remaining disposals were either fiscal fines which also had a compensation requirement, or fiscal compensation orders, or some pre-Summary Justice Reform (SJR) fiscal fines.
5.6 Table 14 shows that 53,335 individuals were given a police disposal in 2010-11. Twenty five per cent of these were given another non-court disposal within one year. The majority of the police disposals in 2010-11 (80 per cent) were ASBFPNs. Twenty seven per cent of those with an index disposal of an ASBFPN in 2010-11 were given another non-court disposal within one year.
5.7 Formal adult warnings made up 13 per cent of all the police disposals. Thirteen per cent of those with an index disposal of a formal adult warning were given another non-court disposal within one year.
5.8 In 2010-11, the remaining police disposals, which consisted of 20 per cent of all the police disposals, were composed of either restorative justice warnings, warning letters, or a small number of other police warnings.
Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) disposals
5.9 Table 15 shows that 50,678 individuals were given a COPFS disposal in 2010-11. Eighteen per cent of these were given another non-court disposal within one year. The majority of the COPFS disposals in 2010-11 (56 per cent) were fiscal fines. Twenty three per cent of those with an index disposal of a fiscal fine in 2010-11 were given another non-court disposal within one year.
5.10 In 2010-11, there were 19,018 individuals given a fiscal fixed penalty, 38 per cent of all the COPFS disposals. Ten per cent of those with an index disposal of a fiscal fixed penalty were given another non-court disposal within one year.
5.11 In 2010-11, the remaining COPFS disposals comprised either fines with a compensation requirement, or a compensation requirement excluding a fine, or a small number of pre-Summary Justice Reform (SJR) fixed penalties.
5.12 At present, information is not collected on fiscal work orders in the Scottish Offenders Index and they are therefore not included in this publication. We are currently assessing the feasibility of including this information in future publications.
Email: Howard Hooper
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