MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee will hold an informal session in Hamilton today as part of their inquiry into the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.
The inquiry, which is looking at the effectiveness, role and purpose of COPFS, will hear from local defence solicitors and a Lanarkshire newspaper court reporter.
Members have already taken evidence from the Presidents of the Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow Bar Associations and the Law Society of Scotland, as well as organisations representing offenders, victims and support services - and three anonymous victims of crime.
A number of witnesses to date have suggested that many of the issues in the COPFS stem from problems with communication, underresourcing, court delays and a lack of autonomy amongst staff. There has been criticism that victims believe the service is there to represent their interests, and that prosecutors are not give the discretion to drop cases they believe to have no chance of conviction.
Justice Committee Convener Margaret Mitchell MSP, a member for Central Scotland, said: “Getting out of Holyrood to hear from people who use the courts every single day will give the Justice Committee’s inquiry a fresh insight.
“When we report and make recommendations in our drive to improve the Scottish justice system, we want to be sure we have heard the views of as many stakeholders as possible. Lanarkshire is a great place to visit to get a closer look at what the picture is like on the ground.”
While there, the committee will also make a separate visit to the offices of the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) in Hamilton, to gain a greater understanding of its work.