Scottish prosecutors warn Government of ‘damage to administration of justice’ due to cuts and increased workload

14 November 2014
(For immediate release)

The FDA's Procurators Fiscal Section (PFS) has warned that the draft Scottish Government budget for 2015/16 could have profound consequences for the administration of justice in Scotland.

In its written evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee, the FDA PFS contrasts a reduced staffing budget with rising numbers of court cases, exacerbated by a significant increase in serious and complex cases.

The FDA's concern is illustrated by the increased number of cases to be 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 staff has decreased by 12%, from 558 in 2009 to 487 today.

The proposed staffing budget for COPFS is a real terms cut of £1.1m before increased employer contributions and any pay increases are accounted for.  This real terms cut will mean fewer staff to deal with this important work.

Fiona Eadie, FDA Vice President and Secretary of the union's Procurator Fiscal Society Section, said:

"These stark statistics paint a worrying picture: cuts in staffing budgets and to permanent staff levels while complex case-loads rise day by day.

"These latest budget cuts are in danger of damaging the administration of justice. Procurators Fiscal are committed professionals who want to uphold the law whilst serving the public, but this can only be achieved with adequate resourcing. The commitment of our members must be matched by the Government.

"Ministers need to decide to either cut workloads or increase resources - the choice is that clear."

Notes for editors

1. The full FDA PFS evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee can be read here.

2. Source for additional information is the Scottish Parliament SPICE briefing which can be found here.

3. 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, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across Government and the NHS.

4. The FDA can be described as "the senior public servants' union" and should be referred to simply as "the FDA".
 
5. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk.

6. The FDA's alternative White Paper - 'Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service - outlining our analysis of the challenges facing the civil service and our recommendations for change, can be read here.

7. For further information contact:

  • Fiona Eadie, FDA Vice President and Secretary of the Procurator Fiscal Society Section, tel: 07940 731032.
  • Kay Hender, Communications Manager, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07980 700747.