Date lodged: 17 May 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what target it has set for improving the efficiency of prosecuting solemn criminal cases from caution and charge to verdict, and what its performance against that target has been in each month since April 2007, broken down by court.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 4 June 2018
The Scottish Government does not centrally set targets in relation to the period from caution and charge to verdict in solemn cases. The efficient progression of solemn cases through the justice system is the shared responsibility of Police Scotland, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and the defence. Given the complexity of solemn business, which is heard before the High Court and Sheriff and Jury Courts and includes the most serious and complex cases in terms of investigation, preparation and determination, a single solemn system wide target / indicator would not be meaningful when compared to the more immediate, less complex and higher volume nature of summary business.
The efficient prosecution of solemn cases by the COPFS takes place within the legislative framework of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. The 1995 Act sets statutory time limits within which solemn cases must be indicted in both the High Court and Sheriff and Jury Courts. The relevant time limits are dictated by whether the accused is remanded in custody or on bail pending trial. COPFS performance in relation to the prosecution of solemn business reflect the statutory requirements that all indictments are served within timebar. COPFS performance against these requirements is published and available at http://www.copfs.gov.uk/images/Documents/Statistics/Performance%20Against%20Key%20Targets%20April%202017%20to%20December%202017.pdf
The SCTS have confirmed that development work to collect and report management information from first diet to verdict / trial concluded in Sheriff and Jury cases is underway and this performance data will be available in the future.