Investigation and prosecution of sheriff solemn cases: thematic review

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's review of the investigation and prosecution of sheriff solemn cases.

Annex A – Survey of Defence Practitioners

We issued an online survey to 42 defence firms (48 solicitors) to obtain their views on whether the reforms had changed and/or improved Sheriff and Jury business. There was a 33% response rate.[51] All those who responded had at least three years' experience in solemn work, regularly conducted first diet courts and, with one exception, conducted sheriff and jury trials on a regular basis. All had experience of conducting this type of work both before and after the reforms.

69%[52] of the respondents found the reforms had a positive impact, 19%[53] found that there had been no impact and 12%[54] found that they had a negative impact. Of those who stated there had been a positive impact:

  • 64% reported there was better communication between the Crown and defence.
  • 55% saw better scheduling of trials.
  • 36% reported there was more time to prepare between service of indictment and the first diet.
  • 36% stated there was increased judicial management.
  • 36% concluded that the combination of the above factors provided a positive impact.

Chaotic timetabling, onerous burdens on defence, failing to identify where there might be witness issues and having to travel to other courts[55] were highlighted as having a negative impact.

In response to the question "What could be done better to help improve the efficiency of solemn business in the Sheriff Court?" the responses included:

  • Earlier/speedier disclosure[56]
  • Legal involvement of the prosecutor at an earlier stage allowing for meaningful discussion e.g. acceptable pleas
  • The prosecution responding better/quicker to correspondence
  • More clarity of when cases will call
  • Less Section 67 notices
  • Increased funding for SCTS and the prosecution service.



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