Perth Sheriff Court welcomes pilot seeking early resolution of domestic abuse cases

May 09, 2024

Following the success of the Summary Case Management Pilot for domestic abuse cases at Dundee, Hamilton, Paisley and latterly Glasgow, Perth is now the latest court to benefit from an initiative that has seen a marked reduction in the number of victims and witnesses in summary cases having to attend court.

It is hoped that the pilot, which aims to improve the efficiency of our summary criminal courts, will be similarly successful at Perth Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Principal Gillian Wade KC issued a Practice Note on 24 April extending the SCM pilot to Perth, where it will apply to all summary complaints involving charges of domestic abuse in which the first calling occurs on or after 13 May 2024.

Sheriff Principal Wade said: “The primary objective is to secure far earlier resolution of summary cases, providing certainty for victims, witnesses and the accused. Proactive judicial case management, together with early disclosure of evidence, will encourage engagement between the Crown and defence at the first opportunity. By reducing the number of cases set down for trial unnecessarily as well as the volume of late guilty pleas and decisions to discontinue proceedings we can deliver more efficient and cost effective summary justice to all court users.”

Domestic abuse complaints account for 25% of all summary cases at Perth Sheriff Court. In 2022/23 601 complaints in domestic abuse cases called in the intermediate diet court but just 52 trials called where evidence was led.

An interim report published in November 2023 revealed that as a result of the Pilot:

  • At least 250 summary trials did not require to be assigned in the Pilot courts, directly as a result of early resolution due to SCM;

  • There was a 25% reduction in the first citation of civilian witnesses in domestic abuse cases in the aggregated Pilot courts;

  • A 34% reduction in the first citation of police witnesses in domestic abuse cases in the aggregated Pilot courts; and


  • If current performance were to be replicated nationally, it is estimated that during the period 5 September 2022 to 31 August 2023 around 1500 trials would not have been assigned.

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