'Fatal accident inquiries taking almost three years to complete'

The time taken for inquiries to be completed has been described as 'completely unacceptable'.

Fatal accident inquiries in Scotland ‘taking almost three years to complete’, FOI reveals iStock

Fatal accident inquiries in Scotland are taking almost three years on average to complete, it has been revealed.

One investigation, related to the death of Croatian Pjero Kurida who was crushed between two vessels in the North Sea in 2012, took more than nine years to conclude.

It found that Mr Kurida’s death could have been avoided had appropriate safety precautions been taken.

FAIs are held to investigate deaths in industrial accidents, in prisons and for deaths where it is felt necessary to hold a public inquiry.

There are now proposals for a Victims’ Law to be introduced which would put in place a statutory time limit for inquiries to be completed.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Scottish Conservatives has shown that over the last year, the average time taken to close an inquiry was 1,067 days.

It is an increase of 128 on the average time taken to complete an inquiry in the previous year.

The Scottish Government has stated that Holyrood considered and modernised the law on FAIs in 2016.

It stated that there are “no plans” to revisit the legislation.

The Victims’ Law proposal is being brought forward by Scottish Conservative justice spokesman Jamie Greene.

He has described the current process as “embarrassing” and is urging Scotland’s justice secretary Keith Brown to back the measures included in the Bill.

“The latest increase in the completion time for Fatal Accident Inquiries is completely unacceptable,” said Greene.

“For inquiries to be taking just shy of three years on average to complete is outrageous and an insult to victims’ families.

“The revelation from the startling response I received from the SNP justice secretary that one inquiry that was concluded last year took nine years to complete is scarcely believable.

“These long drawn-out inquiries cannot continue any longer. That is why I am pressing ahead with my plans to introduce a statutory time limit for inquiries to complete as part of my Victims Law.”

Greene stated that the strict deadlines for FAIs to be completed would guarantee that the families of victims would not have to wait years for closure.

He continued: “The public are clearly tired of these long drawn-out inquiries given the majority of them backed that proposal during my Victims Law consultation.

“These strict deadlines would guarantee victims’ families are not having to wait years for closure.

“I urged Keith Brown and the SNP to back my sensible plans and put an end to the current process which is frankly embarrassing.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Lord Advocate is constitutionally responsible for the investigation of sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths in Scotland.

“These functions are exercised independently of the Scottish Government.

“The Crown Office has significantly reformed the arrangements for the investigation of deaths.

“These reforms have already resulted in reductions in the duration of death investigations and it is expected that they will continue to do so.

“Parliament considered and modernised the law on fatal accident inquiries in 2016 and there are currently no plans to revisit the legislation.”

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