The COPFS prosecute crimes in Scotland. Fiscals are based throughout Scotland. They receive reports of crimes from Police Scotland and some other organisations. When a report is received they must decide what action to take in the public interest, including whether to prosecute someone. When considering the public interest, fiscals take a number of factors into account, including the interests of the victim, the accused and the wider community. This can involve competing interests and will vary with every case. The procurator fiscal service is committed to promoting equality throughout its policies and practices but there are barriers to a consistent approach.
Key issues identified
- Lack of inter agency communication
- Lack of protocols as to how to process offenders with learning disabilities leading to inconsistent approaches
- Lack of understanding of how a learning disability can affect behaviour
- Lack of awareness of issues concerning persons with learning disabilities
Legal Policy Framework
- The Keys to Life Implementation Framework and Priorities 2015 – 2017
- Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Prosecutorial Code
- Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007
- Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act (1995)
How will the SOLD network help address the issues identified?
Our members believe that change is possible!
We reviewed the key interaction points, for people with a learning disability, along the criminal justice pathway, which helped us identify recommendations for change.
The key recommendations to help ensure the prosecution decision is correct are:
- Communication protocols must be established between Police Scotland and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to ensure that information about known vulnerability is communicated to the COPFS.
- The COPFS should give consideration to training specialist prosecutors to take decision in relation to the prosecution of vulnerable individuals.
- The COPFS should develop suitable diversion schemes to ensure that people with learning disabilities have access to the same range of outcomes as the general population.
If you are a member of SOLD you can request a copy of our action plans which detail how we are working towards implementing our recommendations for change.