COPFS should clearly set out its expectations of staff regarding record keeping, and remind them that key decisions about a case should be recorded and that key documentation relating to a case should be imported into the relevant case file.
COPFS should urgently publish a revised Chapter 9 of the Sexual Offences Handbook to provide a single, easily accessible and up-to-date repository for all policy and guidance on managing section 275 applications.
Dedicated training on sexual history and character evidence should be mandatory for all COPFS personnel who are likely to regularly make or respond to section 275 applications in the course of their work.
COPFS should instruct staff that, wherever possible, section 275 applications should be lodged with the court and intimated to the defence at the same time as the indictment is served.
COPFS should identify the most efficient process for receiving and actioning section 275 applications intimated by the defence. It should communicate this process to defence counsel and encourage them to use it.
COPFS should provide staff with guidance on the circumstances in which it may not be appropriate to engage the complainer about section 275 applications.
The Scottish Government should consider seeking to extend the statutory time limits for making section 275 applications in the High Court, irrespective of whether a right to independent legal representation is introduced.
COPFS should ensure that the manner in which complainers are precognosced about section 275 applications is complainer-led, with options being clearly set out and complainers being invited to state their preference which should be facilitated.
COPFS should clarify who is responsible for notifying complainers of the outcome of section 275 applications and should ensure compliance with this requirement. In addition, COPFS should remind its staff that they are required to advise complainers of the likely outcome of section 275 applications.