Chapter 7 – Serious Crime Protocol
"Reform of the criminal justice system is being taken forward in a strategic way and each stage will fit in with what has gone before. We believe it is a priority to act on the High Court Review because this covers the most serious cases in which the stakes are highest for all concerned and inadequacy of the system is always a matter of public concern."
Modernising Justice in Scotland: The reform for the High Court of Justiciary 14
The ACPOS and COPFS Working Group, formed in 2003 to develop the Joint Protocols, made the following recommendations in relation to investigating and reporting serious crime.
- The Strathclyde Area Serious Crime Protocol should be adopted on a national basis - [ ACPOS/ COPFS - Rec. 11]
- Procurators Fiscal will identify the essential statements to be produced prior to full committal in petition cases where the accused has been committed for further examination in custody - [ ACPOS/ COPFS - Rec. 12]
- The creation of a short-term Working Group of COPFS and ACPOS nominees to process map the key stages of case processing with a view to developing templates based on the principles that we have identified and the styles used in the Serious Crime Protocol.- [ ACPOS/ COPFS - Rec. 13]
HMIC and IPS were aware that most forces and Area Procurators Fiscals had either implemented, or agreed to implement, the Strathclyde Area Serious Crime Protocol. Some forces and Area Procurators Fiscal have adopted this in its entirety. Others, including Central Scotland and Highlands and Islands, have amended the document to reflect local variations and the introduction of both the Forensic Science Protocol and legislation in respect of vulnerable witnesses.
The inspection team acknowledges that changes to solemn procedure introduced following the Bonomy Report will continue to evolve with other criminal justice reforms and the work of the National Criminal Justice Board. This has led to agreement between ACPOS and COPFS to review the Serious Crime Protocol and turn it into more precise business rules. HMIC and IPS supports this initiative.