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.

Key Terms

Accused: Person charged with committing a crime.

Appear on Petition/Committal for Further Examination (CFE): First appearance of an accused at court.

Bail: The release from custody of an accused person until the trial or next court hearing.

Bail Conditions: Conditions imposed by the court on the accused usually designed to protect victims and the public.

Case Preparer: Members of COPFS staff who interview witnesses and prepare cases for court in solemn proceedings.

Citation: Document sent to a witness requiring them to attend at court to give evidence.

Crown Counsel (CC): Collective term for the Law Officers (Lord Advocate and Solicitor General) and Advocates Deputes.

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS): The independent public prosecution service in Scotland. It is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Scotland. It is also responsible for the investigation of sudden, unexplained or suspicious deaths and the investigation of allegations of criminal conduct against police officers.

First Diet (FD): A court hearing to establish the state of preparation of the prosecutor and defence for trial.

Indictment: Court document that sets out the charges the accused faces at trial in solemn proceedings.

Knowledge Bank: COPFS information database containing legal and non-legal guidance.

Law Officers:The Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland.

Lord Advocate:The Ministerial Head of COPFS.

National Sexual Crimes Unit (NSCU): A body of senior Crown Counsel specialising in the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes.

Place on Petition: Decision by prosecutor to commence solemn criminal proceedings.

Petition: Formal document served on accused in solemn proceedings. It gives notice of charges being considered by the Procurator Fiscal.

Procurators Fiscal (PFs): Legally qualified prosecutors who receive reports about crimes from the police and other agencies and make decisions on what action to take in the public interest and, where appropriate, prosecute cases.

Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS): An independent body that provides administrative support to Scottish courts and tribunals and to the judiciary.

Solemn Procedure: The procedure for the prosecution of serious criminal cases before a judge and jury in the High Court or Sheriff Court.

Summary Proceedings: Prosecutions held in the Sheriff or Justice of the Peace Court before a judge without a jury.

Trial Diet: A court hearing where evidence is ledbefore a judge and jury to determine if a person is guilty of a crime.

Victim Information and Advice (VIA): The dedicated service offered by COPFS to victims, witnesses of certain crimes and bereaved relatives affected by certain types of death.


In law, the term complainer is used to describe the person against whom it is alleged a crime has been committed. In this report, we have used the term 'victim' for the person against whom it is alleged a crime has been committed. It is the terminology used in legislation and is commonly understood. It makes no assumption about the veracity of the allegation(s).

List of abbreviations:

1995 Act: The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995

2014 Act: The Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014

2016 Act: Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016



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