MSPs to Investigate Prosecution Service

Holyrood's Justice Committee has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of Scotland's prosecution service following concerns over workload and budget pressures.

The committee has asked for views on the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and will start taking evidence in the autumn.

Its inquiry will examine how effective and efficient the organisation is, and whether it has the resources it needs to carry out its work.

It will also look at how it protects and supports witnesses and victims of crime.

The probe comes after members of the Scottish Parliament's previous justice committee raised concerns over pressures facing COPFS, including a rise in complex cases.

Convener Margaret Mitchell said: ''The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is absolutely fundamental to the operation of an effective justice system in Scotland. This is why this committee has chosen to make it the focus of its first major inquiry.

''MSPs on the previous justice committee raised several concerns about the additional pressures that the organisation faced in recent times - including an increase in complex historic sex abuse and domestic abuse cases, and new requirements required by legislation.

''The COPFS's responsibilities towards victims and witnesses have also been increasing - and rightly. This has all taken place against a backdrop of tight budgetary settlements in recent years.

''It is likely these significant pressures will continue, so fundamental to this inquiry will be to determine if the COPFS has the resources it needs to bring offenders to justice and is 'future-proofed' to deal with new challenges.''

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday October 19.


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