Publication - Research and analysis

Investigation and prosecution of sheriff solemn cases: thematic review

Published: 19 Jul 2019
Directorate:
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Law and order
ISBN:
9781839600241

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

Investigation and prosecution of sheriff solemn cases: thematic review
Chapter 4 – Overview of Cases Indicted In 2018

Chapter 4 – Overview of Cases Indicted In 2018

43. There were 5,966 accused persons indicted in the solemn sheriff court in 2018.[19] 21 were subsequently dealt with by summary procedure. There are a number of reasons why cases may be dealt with by summary proceedings. For example, new information may result in there being insufficient evidence for some charges or the charges being less serious.

Nature of Offences

44. Chart 2 provides an overview of the main offence of the 5,945 accused indicted to be prosecuted in the sheriff solemn courts.[20]

Chart 2 – Nature of Offences

Chart 2 – Nature of Offences

* Miscellaneous offences category includes offences of public disorder, assaults, stalking and a wide range of low-level and statutory offences.

* The Other crimes group includes drugs offences, possession of offensive weapons and crimes against public justice, including breach of court orders.

Chart 3 provides a breakdown of the outcome of the cases. There was a finding or plea of guilty in 70%, a finding of not guilty/not proven or a not guilty plea accepted in 12%, 5% were discontinued and 12% are ongoing.

Chart 3 – Outcomes

Chart 3 – Outcomes

45. Of those convicted 60% received a sentence of imprisonment and 140 (3.5%) were detained in a Young Offenders Institute.

46. On examining cases where no further action had been taken, 46% were due to there now being insufficient evidence. There were a variety of reasons for the other cases being discontinued including the attitude of the victim, further action being disproportionate and the accused had died.

Cohort Review

47. We examined 95 cases where the accused was indicted to be prosecuted in the sheriff solemn court in 2018.[21] We examined the action taken by the prosecutor and the nature of the offences and outcomes. There were four cases which had outstanding warrants for the arrest of the accused due to their non-appearance at court. These were excluded from the review resulting in an analysis of 91 cases.

48. 84 of the accused persons were male and seven female. Chart 4 illustrates a breakdown by age and gender. 10% (9) were under the age of 21.

Chart 4 – Gender and Age

Chart 4 – Gender and Age

49. After appearing on petition, 55% (50) were released on bail and 44% (40) were remanded in custody. One, who was serving a sentence of imprisonment, was ordained to attend.

50. Chart 5 provides a breakdown of the offences for which they were indicted. The main offences were offences of violence 47% (43); being in possession of an offensive weapon 14% (13); sexual crimes 11% (10) and drug offences 10% (9).

Chart 5 – Type of Offence

Chart 5 – Type of Offence

When resolved

Of the 91 cases:

  • 20% (18) by a Section 76 plea
  • 30% (27) at the first diet;[22]
  • 43% (39) were resolved at the trial diet; and
  • 8% (7) are ongoing.[23]

Outcomes

Chart 6 provides a breakdown of the outcomes:

Chart 6 provides a breakdown of the outcomes:

  • 68% (62) pled or were found guilty;
  • 12% (11) were found not guilty/not proven or a not guilty plea was accepted;
  • 11% (10) were discontinued;
  • 8% (7) were ongoing; and
  • One accused died.

51. Of those who were found or pled guilty (62 cases), 69% (43) were sentenced to a period of imprisonment; 23% (14) were given a community payback order and 5% (3) received other disposals including fines, compensation orders and orders of disqualification. In two cases, the accused are still to be sentenced.


Contact

Email: carolyn.sharp@gov.scot