Date lodged: 27 September 2017
To ask the Scottish Government whether it considers that families of road death victims should, on request, have a statutory right to receive investigation documents at the conclusion of criminal proceedings or at the end of relevant investigations where there are no criminal proceedings.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 25 October 2017
The Scottish Government remains of the view that releasing such documents to families might not always be appropriate given the potentially distressing nature of the content.
The COPFS Family Liaison Charter outlines the information that COPFS undertakes to provide to bereaved families, including the families of road traffic collision victims, and the timeframes within which this information will be provided to families. The Charter was published in September 2016 and applies to any death reported to COPFS on or after 1 September 2016. It also applies to deaths reported earlier that 1 September 2016 if the bereaved family specifically ask COPFS for the Charter to apply.
In relation to “investigative” documents specifically, where a matter is being investigated and criminal proceedings are in contemplation, such documents will not be released to next of kin while investigations are on-going and while a prosecution is on-going, as the documents may ultimately be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.
Once the prosecution has been concluded, or a decision has been made that there will be no prosecution, as a matter of practice, next of kin can in general obtain a copy of the post mortem report and the Collision Investigation Report, if they wish.
Next of kin will also be offered a meeting with COPFS at the conclusion of criminal proceedings to explain the outcome and to discuss any issues arising.