Existing Users

Access your account, submit a petition & check the progress of your petition.

Forgotten password?

Remember me

New user? Sign up now

Background Info

In England and Wales there is no need to seek permission before a private criminal prosecution can be commenced in court. There appears to be no evidence that this facility creates major difficulties for the courts in other parts of the UK, and there is no evidence that solicitors and advocates could not more than adequately perform this function in regard to private criminal prosecutions. In fact, many criminal defence firms already have former depute fiscals in their employment, and there is always the ability to instruct counsel, who have acted as advocate deputes for the crown in the past.  It could be suggested that giving this facility might actually reduce the pressure on the public purse. 

By making the right to bring a private criminal prosecution more straightforward, this would allow for certain organisations, companies, and individuals to use the criminal law where it might be the most appropriate remedy, for the exact same principles that apply when the crown decides to prosecute. Some examples are private prosecutions for fraud, theft or for wilful neglect in public office, where there appears to have been no prosecutions for over 20 years, as well as other offences. There would be safeguards, in that solicitors and advocates will not commence proceedings if there are no prospects of success, as they also owe a duty to the court, as well as their clients. 

As matters currently stand if the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decides that it will not provide a report to the Crown in Scotland on an accident at work, legally there is nothing anyone in Scotland can do. The Lord Advocate in Scotland can direct Police Scotland to carry out an investigation, but has no powers to direct the HSE to carry out an investigation as they are a reserved body.  Without a report the Crown cannot prosecute, so in effect there is no remedy for the victim.  This anomaly would be cured by this petition and would ensure access to justice by giving the facility for a private criminal prosecution in the event that the HSE declined to provide a report.  With the ability to bring a private criminal prosecution in a more straightforward manner, then employees, trade unions, or other interested parties could decide, where appropriate, to seek an a criminal sanction, for example, in instances where perhaps a company had ceased trading, but there had been an accident.

There is another potential justification in support of this petition, and it is this. If there is any suggestion that the involvement of the Lord Advocate in directing reporting agencies might impact on their independence, then there has to be a safeguard by giving the right to bring a private criminal prosecution without the Lord Advocate giving permission.  The HSE director in Scotland, Mike Cross has suggested that giving the Lord Advocate the power to direct the HSE to carry out an investigation should not be granted, as it might “undermine HSE’s independence”. Does this mean that Police Scotland as a reporting agency might not  be independent when they are directed to produce a report for the Crown?  In my opinion, the HSE position is patently absurd, however, in all fairness, Mr Cross might actually have evidence to support the statement.  If true, it could cast doubt on the ability of Police Scotland to be independent in certain situations, and therefore provide further support for  the need of the removal of the involvement of the Lord Advocate in the existing process.  

This website is using cookies.
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website.