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COPFS

Who we are

COPFS provides Scotland’s independent prosecution service. We are a department of the Scottish Government, headed by the Lord Advocate.

The document below, available in a Word and a PDF format, provides more information on the COPFS governance structure.

docxCOPFS Governance.docx

pdfCOPFS Governance.pdf

 

This following section sets out some of the roles and functions of those who contribute to our work.

 

Lord Advocate

The Lord Advocate is the ministerial head of COPFS, leading the system of criminal prosecutions and the  investigation of  deaths. He is the senior  of the two Law Officers, along with the Solicitor General for  Scotland. Both are appointed by the  Queen on the recommendation of the First  Minister, with the  agreement of the Scottish Parliament. The Lord Advocate is  a Minister of the Scottish Government and  acts as principal legal  adviser, but decisions by him about criminal prosecutions and the investigation of deaths are taken independently of any other person. In that  way, he is not subject to the ordinary rules about collective ministerial decisions. 

 

Solicitor General

The Solicitor General is the Lord Advocate’s deputy. She assists the Lord Advocate to carry out his functions.  She is also  a Minister of the Scottish  Government.

 

Crown Agent

David Harvie The Crown Agent is the principal legal advisor to the Lord Advocate on prosecution matters and the Chief  Executive of  COPFS. Crown Agent - Biography

 

 

 

 

Procurators Fiscal

Procurators Fiscal are legally qualified prosecutors who work in specialist units and offices around Scotland. Where necessary, they direct the police in investigating crime. They investigate all sudden and suspicious deaths in Scotland, conduct Fatal Accident Inquiries and handle criminal complaints against the police.

The police and other reporting agencies submit more than 250,000 cases a year to COPFS.

For the majority of crimes in Scotland the Procurators Fiscal present cases for the prosecution in the Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Courts.

 

Advocate Deputes

Advocate Deputes are appointed by the Lord Advocate. They make decisions in serious cases and also advise Procurators Fiscal on complex or sensitive issues.

  • Senior Advocate Deputes prosecute serious, complex or sensitive cases, deal with conviction appeals and decide which cases should be indicted in the High Court
  • Advocate Deputes prosecute the majority of cases in the High Court, and have the opportunity to prosecute in serious and complex cases and carry out some appeal work

 

Crown Counsel

Together, the Lord Advocate, Solicitor General and the Advocate Deputes are known as Crown Counsel.