Criminal prosecutors \’should be elected by the public\’ – Herald


Julia Horton, 9.10.08

SCOTLAND\’S chief criminal prosecutors should be elected by the public to make the country\’s justice system more accountable, a key independent think-tank says today.

Reform Scotland is calling for the nation\’s 11 area procurators-fiscal to be voted into office in US-style elections so that their position depends on public support.

US district attorneys are elected on the basis of which types of crimes they pledge to fight hardest and how they live up to their manifesto.

Reform Scotland\’s chairman, Ben Thomson, said: "We believe you get a more effective system if they prosecutors are transparent to the public and have to justify what they are doing."

He added that the move could help fiscals focus more on local crime problems by allowing, for example, a fiscal in Glasgow to concentrate on drug crime while a colleague in the Highlands might make wildlife crime a priority.

The Crown Office and Procurator-Fiscal Service said Scotland\’s prosecutors, who are appointed by the Lord Advocate, worked under a system designed to respond to local needs.

A spokeswoman said: "The Lord Advocate encourages direct engagement by fiscals with their communities, in order that local needs are fully understood and addressed."

The think-tank also recommended scrapping all jail sentences of less than three months because they were "a waste of time and money".