Monday, 19 August 2019

Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland Recommends Extension Of Victim Strategy...Or Do They?

A recent article in the Scottish Legal News website reported on a review by the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland into the sheriff and jury regime which has been in effect since the middle of 2017.

In the review it was recommended that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) should extend its victim strategy to all complainers of sexual crimes that are prosecuted in the sheriff solemn courts as well as the high courts.

No complaints there. Taking good care of victims sounds good to me. As for the criminals, lock 'em up and throw away the key I say.

Interestingly though, there was NOTHING mentioned in the review about those innocent members of the public who are falsely accused of sexual crimes.

Strange.

Could it be that the corrupt Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal are uninterested in helping people who have been falsely accused of crimes? Perhaps the corrupt Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal are uninterested in prosecuting false accusers? Or perhaps they've just forgotten that they also have an equal duty to help ALL victims of crime, and that includes the victims of false accusers?

So, in the interests of fairness and justice, I've decided to step up to the plate today and help our good friends at the COPFS get a more balanced view of things and hopefully, with my help, they'll be able to increase prosecutions against all those disgusting criminals out there who wreak havoc by making false accusations against innocent members of the public.

To achieve this, I've re-worded the original Legal News article to reflect the importance of how COPFS should be dealing with false accusers and false accusations.

In the italicised text below, you'll see that I have <bracketed> particular words or phrases. This is where I have replaced the original articles words and phrases and changed them to refer to crimes where someone has been falsely accused.

I know how much the COPFS like to keep telling the Scottish public how fair, honest, and reasoned they are when marking up cases. Justice for all and protecting the innocent is paramount to what they do (or so they tell us). We are constantly told how the COPFS go to extraordinary lengths to make sure they prosecute ALL crime, no matter how big or small, and without fear of favour. So I just know they'll be absolutely delighted with my re-working/re-wording of the article below (you can thank me later Lord Advocate):

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) should extend its victim strategy to <those falsely accused> that are prosecuted in the sheriff solemn courts. They should examine the effectiveness of procedures, processes and systems in ensuring <false accusation> cases are progressed expeditiously; the impact of the legislative reforms; and the individual needs of those falsely accused.

For all victims of <false accusation> crimes prosecuted in the High Court, COPFS should implement a victim strategy which is dependent on receiving vulnerability reports from the police.

In addition to commitments to advise all victims of the outcome of the <false accusers> first court appearance and bail conditions, the victim strategy should entail a commitment that victim information and advice (VIA) officers will make contact by telephone within seven to 21 days for custody/bail cases where the <false accuser> has appeared in court.

The call should include introducing the VIA and the case preparer to the <falsely accused person> and explaining the process and likely timescales; ascertaining the <falsely accused> person preferred method of communication and whether they would wish an early face to face meeting with the case preparer; an assessment of vulnerabilities and special measures; discussing the <falsely accused> person's attitude to proceedings and to obtaining sensitive, personal records; signposting the <falsely accused> person to support organisations, if appropriate; updating the <falsely accused> person following any ‘significant event’, such as when an indictment has been served on their <false accuser>; and contacting the <falsely accused> person in accordance with the level and type of communication that has been agreed.

The decision to prosecute in the High Court rather than the Sheriff Court can often be marginal and may be due to a <false accusers> record of previous offending rather than the seriousness of the offence.

“VIA officers expressed a desire to provide a consistent level of service to all victims of <false accusation> crimes regardless of the forum. Senior members of COPFS shared this view. An approach similar to that taken in the High Court is currently being employed in Kirkcaldy and a pilot scheme is underway in Glasgow where victims of <false accusation> crimes prosecuted in the sheriff solemn courts will be supported in the same way as those in the High Court. We welcome both developments and urge COPFS to extend the victim strategy to all victims of <false accusation> crimes prosecuted in the solemn courts,” the inspection report states.

<Mr> M, who successfully sued the <woman> cleared of <falsely accusing him> in criminal proceedings, said "There is an assumption here that the provision of services in the High Court is good, but there are areas of criminal procedure that could be improved, regardless of court. I didn’t have much communication with the procurator fiscal”

Kate Wallace, CEO of Victim Support Scotland, said “Victim Support Scotland supports the call for improvements to the communication and support received by victims of <false accusations> crime at the Sheriff Court. Going to court is often a deeply distressing experience and giving evidence can be severely re-traumatising for victims of <false accusation> crime. Ensuring consistent and improved procedures across both courts will give victims a fairer and more positive experience of the criminal justice system.”

So there you have it. A wonderful gift from me to the COPFS. A little bit of a blueprint you could say, to help the COPFS give innocent victims of false accusers the same level of service they give when the shoe is on the other foot.

So when are you going to implement this important strategy to ensure equal and fair justice for all victims of false accusers Mr Procurator Fiscal?

Hello?

Can you hear me?

Is there anyone there?

Hmmm, yeah, just as I thought.

Original Article:
https://www.scottishlegal.com/article/exclusive-prosecution-watchdog-recommends-extension-of-victim-strategy-to-all-complainers-of-sexual-crimes