Pilot scheme to resolve domestic abuse cases early is extended 

The summary case management scheme aims to deal with cases more quickly and cut the need for witnesses to attend court needlessly.

Pilot scheme to resolve domestic abuse cases early is extended to Glasgow SNS Group

A pilot scheme which aims to resolve domestic abuse cases early has been extended to Scotland’s busiest court to assess how it can be scaled up to a national level.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance visited Glasgow Sheriff Court on Wednesday to welcome the introduction of the summary case management (SCM) pilot to the city’s court.

It follows success at Dundee, Hamilton and Paisley Sheriff Courts, with an interim report published in November showing at least 250 summary trials did not need to assigned because an early resolution was reached.

The pilot sees fewer witnesses attending court unnecessarily by facilitating the early disclose of evidence, early engagement between the Crown and defence and early case management.

The earlier pilot saw a 25% reduction in the first citation of witnesses in domestic abuse cases in the three courts and 34% fewer police witnesses required to attend court.

Outside of the pilot, the majority of witnesses cited in summary sheriff court cases will never appear at a trial, and only about one in 10 police officers will appear to give evidence, with more than 200,000 officers cited as witnesses between 2021 and 2022.

The pilot is intended to be less traumatic for victims and to free up police officers, by focusing on early guilty pleas and improved communication between lawyers in summary cases in sheriff court.

Ms Constance told the PA news agency extending the pilot to Glasgow will be a “fundamental” step in assessing how successful the measures could be at a national level.

She said: “I’m always very interested in new ways of working that have been proven to work so the pilot here in Glasgow, taking place in Scotland’s busiest court, is fundamental and will be crucial to informing the next steps.

“It is right and proper that, where reforms have worked at a local level, we consider how that can be scaled up to a national level.”

The Justice Secretary added: “This is, of course, the busiest court in Scotland so this pilot will have a big impact.

“First and foremost, this new way of managing cases will benefit victims and complainers.

“It will improve our trauma-informed approaches so there will be less call on victims and witnesses to appear in court. This is all about dealing with cases earlier in the process so that justice can be done timeously.”

Sheriff Principal Aisha Anwar, who had led the pilot’s development, said: “I was keen to build on the early success of the pilot by introducing it to the busiest court in Scotland.

“That has been possible as a result of excellent cross justice collaboration between the police, the Crown, the defence, SCTS, the judiciary and the Scottish Legal Aid Board and I thank all of those involved for their participation.”

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