As the Scottish Government prepares to cut £1.1m from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) staffing budget, the FDA has requested an urgent meeting with the new Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson.
In a letter to Matheson, the union has stated that this cut will leave the proper administration of Justice in jeopardy and will put intolerable stress on court professionals already operating 'on the edge'. This seems inexplicable in the light of a £92m underspend in the 2013/4 Justice budget.
The FDA recently highlighted the increased number of cases being prosecuted on petition (i.e. serious cases heard by a jury either in the Sheriff or High Court), which have risen by almost 20% since 2012.
Over the same period, the overall number of cases going to a full trial has increased by almost 12%. The number of permanent and temporary legal staff has decreased by 12% since 2009.
Secretary of the FDA Procurators Fiscal Section, Fiona Eadie, said:
"Unless this budget cut is reversed, we cannot see how COPFS can continue to deliver current or improved standards of service with fewer staff. We fear that there will inevitably be an impact on the wider justice system and the service provided to the public.
"The reported underspend in the Justice budget, when our members are operating at the very edge of capacity, is frightening and to impose further cuts on Scotland's prosecutors will have repercussions for the whole of Scottish society."
Notes to editors
1. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals. FDA membership includes more than 18,000 senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, school inspectors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors, and other professionals work across Government and the NHS.
2. The FDA can be described as "the senior public servants' union" and should be referred to simply as "the FDA"
3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk.
4. For further information contact:
· Fiona Eadie, Secretary of the FDA Procurators Fiscal Section, tel: 020 7401 5589.
· Kay Hender, Communications Manager, tel: 020 7401 5589 or 07980 700747.