Cross-justice collaboration has improved the efficiency of summary criminal business

Sep 09, 2021

Cross-justice collaboration has improved the efficiency of summary criminal business in the sheriff courts, a report has shown.

The SCTS report on Pre-Intermediate Diet Meetings (PIDMs) shows that engagement in the procedure increased from a national average of 53% in February to 72% in July 2021. The statistics further show that high engagement levels in turn increased case resolution. 

The paper discusses the development of the new procedure from its inception in December last year; and outlines the opportunities for further improvements.

In his foreword to the report, the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, said: “I congratulate all those, notably Sheriffs Principal Anwar and Murray, on their efforts to devise a practical solution … The general success of the PIDM system is apparent from the statistics on its outcomes. If the legal profession engage constructively with it, the benefits for the client, the agent and procurators fiscal depute will become clear. The advantage to witnesses and others in terms of cost savings and convenience will be manifest.”

The paper found that the initiative recognised the importance of thorough and effective preparation and engagement in advance of an intermediate diet so that only those cases which could not be resolved and were ready to go to trial, proceeded to the assigned trial diet.

The report states: “Performance in terms of the reported outcomes of conclusion or resolution of cases following PIDM discussions is encouraging. The backlog of cases caused by the pandemic requires innovative solutions which seek to deliver efficiencies while freeing up trial slots for those cases in which evidence requires to be heard.

 “As engagement levels improve and the process embeds, the expectation is that this will have a positive impact on the case resolution rates. In doing so, it should contribute to minimising the number of vital trial diets lost by late guilty pleas and help to reduce the backlog of trials created by the pandemic.

 “A key feature of the PIDM procedure has been the opportunity to reduce the number of cases calling routinely for intermediate diet. Fewer unnecessary intermediate diets free up the courts, the judiciary, the crown and defence to deal with other business. The data thus far illustrates the impact that approach has had and the potential that it presents for making the most efficient use of resources across the system.”

The full report can be viewed here

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