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Crown reveals figures for wrongful detention ex gratia payments

3 February 2017

Accused people and witnesses have received a total of £12,667.80 from the Crown in 22 cases over the past three years, as a result of their being detained due to errors by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.

The figures are disclosed in a letter from the Crown Agent, David Harvie, to Holyrood's Justice Committee, following up on his appearance last month along with the Lord Advocate to give oral evidence to the committee, for its inquiry into the COPFS.

MSPs had asked for information on how many times COPFS had paid damages or compensation to victims or witnesses. Mr Harvie said he could provide figures from January 2014, commenting: "When COPFS is made aware that a person (accused or witness) may have been unlawfully detained, we will review the circumstances of the case. If it appears that we have erred in a manner leading to the unlawful detention of an accused person or witness, even if we consider that we would be able to successfully defend any civil
claim, consideration is given to whether it is appropriate for COPFS to offer that person an ex gratia payment in respect of any inconvenience caused."

In the same latter Mr Harvie also stated, among other points:

  • that COPFS was currently achieving its target of making 75% of summary cases within four weeks of receipt;
  • that the one recent meeting between managers and the FDA union had been regarded on both sides as opening up a constructive dialogue, and further such meetings would be beneficial;
  • and that fewer people compared with 10 years ago (23% as against 40%) are now receiving fines for domestic abuse offences, while custodial disposals have risen from 10% to 14% and community disposals from 19% to 29% – though around one third are admonished, a figure that has remained fairly constant.

Click here to view the full letter. 

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