Date lodged: 26 April 2017
To ask the Scottish Government how many expert locum advocates have been recruited in each year since 2007 by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service for High Court trials, also broken down by (a) areas of expertise and (b) cost.
Answered by: James Wolffe QC 10 May 2017
COPFS maintains a permanent cadre of 38 Advocate Deputes to prosecute cases in the High Court, to mark High Court cases, to issue instructions as required to COPFS and to assist the Law Officers in their prosecutorial functions as required.
Advocate Deputes are recruited from a wide range of backgrounds and have a wide range of specialist skills. They effectively prosecute the full range of serious crime in the High Court. In addition, a group of practitioners are instructed from time to time as the need arises as ad hoc Advocate Deputes. Ad hoc Advocate Deputes likewise have a wide range of skills upon which the Crown can call when the need arises.
The Justice Committee report on the Role and Purpose of the Procurator Fiscal Service, published on 25 April 2017, contains a recommendation at paragraph 180 that COPFS consider whether there is merit in recruiting locum prosecutors to prosecute High Court cases turning on complex and specialist aspects of criminal law. I am considering this recommendation and will write to the Justice Committee in due course.