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Diversion from prosecution scheme

Diversion from Prosecution Scheme allows someone accused of offences to be dealt with outside of the court system.

The aims of diversion are to:

  • provide disposal which, due to the personal circumstances of the person, is more satisfactory than prosecution or
  • through early intervention, offer a more effective means to prevent the re-occurrence of the offending behaviour

The Procurator Fiscal will make the decision whether an individual should be diverted from prosecution based on the police report of the alleged offence.

Diversion programmes are tailored to the individual and aim to get to the underlying causes of offending. It is designed to prevent individuals entering the criminal justice system too early and to stop the cycle of offending.

Justice Social Work staff write assessment reports on people referred to the scheme by the Procurator Fiscal. They also work with the person on a programme of work that usually lasts 10 weeks. Once the work is complete the Procurator Fiscal is given a final report about the work done and the commitment the person showed.

If the report is satisfactory, the Procurator Fiscal will divert the person from prosecution for the alleged offence. However, if the report is unsatisfactory, prosecution may follow.

As well as the above Diversion Programmes, the Procurator Fiscal may offer individuals an opportunity to perform a period of unpaid work through a Fiscal Work Order (FWO) instead of facing prosecution. FWOs are a form of direct measure and are provided for by Section 51 of the Criminal Proceedings (Reform) (Scotland) Act 2007.

FWOs are not intended to legitimise or effectively decriminalise alleged criminal behaviour, nor are they intended as an alternative to a decision by the Procurator Fiscal to take no proceedings.

The FWO sets out the minimum (10 hours) and maximum (50 hours) number of hours that can be offered under a Fiscal Work Order.

The objectives of FWOs are to:

  • Extend the range of measures available to prosecutors in dealing with persons that do not require a Court hearing
  • Provide an opportunity for persons accused of relatively minor offences, and where it would otherwise not be in the public interest to prosecute, to be dealt out with the Court system
  • Enable and require persons who are alleged to have engaged in criminal behaviour to undertake prescribed activities designed to make reparation for, and to reduce the likelihood of re-occurrence of that behaviour
  • Provide constructive community work activities or programmes for alleged persons with the aim of encouraging personal and social responsibility and self-respect
  • Provide supervision to persons which is both firm and fair, and where issues in relation to compliance are followed up promptly
  • Through a speedy resolution, maintain the link between the commission of an alleged offence and the imposition of a penalty
  • Benefit victims and communities through faster and more appropriate resolution of cases
  • Reduce the demands on the Court system by removing cases that do not need to be taken to Court from that process, thereby reducing the backlog of cases faced by Courts and saving public resources