Statistical Bulletin: Crime and Justice Series: Criminal Proceedings in Scotland, 2010-11

Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2010-11

4. Summary Justice Reform

4.1 The summary ( i.e. non-jury) criminal justice system in Scotland has undergone an extensive and far-reaching programme of reform. Summary justice reform 1, 2 focused on all aspects of the summary criminal justice system and intended to create a system that is fair, effective, efficient and quick.

4.2 A range of measures were implemented as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Criminal Proceedings etc. (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007, including:

  • Increased roll out and use of alternatives to prosecution that can be offered by the police ( e.g. Anti-Social Behaviour Fixed Penalty Notices and Formal Adult Warnings) and procurator fiscal ( e.g. increased use of Fiscal Fines).
  • Reforms to bail procedures.
  • Increased use of undertakings.
  • Increased sentencing powers in Summary courts.
  • Enhanced fines enforcement.
  • Replacement of district courts with Justice of the Peace ( JP) courts.
  • Reforms to appointing and training lay Justices of the Peace ( JPs).
  • Reforms to summary criminal legal aid.

4.3 The provisions of the 2007 act were brought into force in stages. The changes to undertakings, bail, lay justice, sentencing powers and certain procedural reforms came into effect on 10 December 2007. Those relating to procurator fiscal alternatives to prosecution and fines enforcement came into effect on 10 March 2008. The unification of the administration of the sheriff and district/ JP Courts was rolled-out on a sheriffdom-by-sheriffdom basis and completed in February 2010 2.

4.4 2008-09 was the first full year across which many aspects of summary justice reform were implemented. This bulletin contains a range of results and changes which are likely to be related to, and have been affected by, summary justice reform. The commentary in section 5 highlights a selection of these results.

4.5 At an overall level, for example, the continued reduction in the number of people proceeded against in court since 2007-08 is consistent with the principal aim of the reforms - that fewer cases go to court needlessly and more are dealt with by non-court actions, where it is appropriate to do so. Similarly, the number of criminal reports received by the procurator fiscal has fallen year-on-year since 2006-07.

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