Michael Howie, 9.10.08
Scotland\’s senior prosecutors should be elected to office on similar lines to American district attorneys, according to a new report.
Electing the country\’s 11 area procurator-fiscals would create a "far clearer and transparent" system of justice, a think tank report says.
It also calls for prison sentences of less than three months to be scrapped, and for Scotland\’s police forces to be reorganised to fit local authority boundaries.
This would not mean 32 police forces based on the present structure, but a network of local forces with centralised bodies like the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency dealing with serious crime.
The radical recommendations come in a report on criminal justice to be published today by the right-of-centre think tank Reform Scotland.
"Procurators-fiscal can make crucial decisions about whether, where and how crimes are prosecuted in Scotland, yet as with the police there is little transparency or accountability to the public within the system," says the report.
"We recommend that each of the area procurators-fiscal who head up the 11 offices in Scotland should be directly elected from the area they represent.
"We would not envisage these elections being party political and would expect the elections to be between legal professionals fought on the policies and attitudes the individual would adopt in office."
The think-tank was founded by Ben Thomson, chairman of Edinburgh-based investment group. the Noble Group.
The organisation describes itself as an independent, non-party body that is seeking ways to achieve economic prosperity and better public services "based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity, and personal responsibility".