Bodies of murder victims could be released more quickly following Crown Office effort to reduce post-mortems
A new procedure has been agreed to reduce the number of unecessary post-mortems conducted in cases of suspicious deaths
Crown Office - Image credit: Holyrood
The bodies of murder victims could be released to their families more quickly after a new procedure is introduced by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to reduce unnecessary post-mortems.
The Crown Office is responsible for the investigation of all sudden, suspicious, accidental or unexplained deaths in Scotland and it regularly commissions post-mortem examinations.
Post-mortems are a necessary step in the investigation of a suspicious death and the defence has the legal right to demand one on behalf of the accused in a criminal case.
However, COPFS says it recognises the impact delays in the return of the body of a loved one can have on bereaved families.
It believes new protocol, which has been produced in consultation with the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Royal College of Pathologists, could deliver a reduction in the number of defence examinations and minimise delays in the return of loved ones to their families through more effective consultation between Crown pathologists and defence as to whether a second post-mortem examination is required.
Anthony McGeehan, Procurator Fiscal for Policy and Engagement, said: “The loss of a loved one is a distressing time for families and we know that this can be exacerbated by delays to being able to arrange a funeral.
“The new protocol endeavours to ensure that post-mortem examinations are only conducted where necessary and loved ones are returned to their family as quickly as possible.
“This promotes the interests of the victims of crime within the criminal justice system whilst preserving potential criminal proceedings and the rights of the accused.”
The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee said that there should be legislation for referendum questions on issues of national importance
Downing Street had to confirm its confidence in the judiciary after a source suggested MPs “chose the Scottish courts for a reason”
A panel of judges in Scotland’s highest civil court found that the decision to suspend was “motivated by the improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.
“Something had to be done for the Shetland by-election,” Russell told the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee