Procurators Fiscal are qualified solicitors who work for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). They investigate and prosecute all crime in Scotland and are independent of the police and the courts.
You could be:
receiving and investigating reports of incidents from the police and other law enforcement bodies, such as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
deciding if a crime has been committed under Scots Law and if there is enough evidence to prosecute – this process involves a lot of legal research
deciding if it is in the public interest to prosecute or whether to impose a fixed penalty fine
preparing cases for prosecution, summoning witnesses, instructing the police and other agencies to gather evidence
initiating prosecution by putting the facts to the court – Justice of the Peace, Sheriff or High Court depending on how serious the crime is or, in the case of juvenile crime, referring the case to the Reporter to the Children’s Panel
presenting the case for the prosecution in jury trials in the Justice of the Peace and Sheriff Courts, and preparing cases for Crown Counsel (who are Advocates) to present in the High Court
investigating and deciding on cases of sudden or suspicious death
in some such cases, initiating a Fatal Accident Inquiry
attending the scene of such deaths with a pathologist, as a coroner would in England and Wales.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salary for a COPFS Legal Trainee (from April 2019) is £20,145 in year 1 and £23,250 in year 2.
The salary for a Procurator Fiscal Depute with six or more years' post qualifying experience is £39,780 to £50,958 a year (from April 2019).
A Senior Procurator Fiscal Depute earns £50,037 to £57,743 a year (from April 2019).
Procurators Fiscal work from offices and in the law courts.
You may have to visit scenes of crime of accidents.
You would normally work a 37-hour week but may have to work long hours when you are preparing an important case.
You would be on a rota to be on call over weekends and evenings.
All Procurators Fiscal are qualified solicitors. You must first obtain the relevant law degree (Foundation Programme) and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1). The Diploma is the first stage of Professional Education and Training (or PEAT, the term used to describe the postgraduate stages of becoming a solicitor). For detailed entry requirements into this profession, see the job profile Solicitor.
For entry to the LLB degree, you need Highers or Advanced Highers at A or B. (Check university prospectuses for the entry requirements for individual LLB courses). You need Higher English, and some universities also specify passes in Maths, science subjects, a language or a social science subject at National 5.
If you apply to the University of Glasgow to study law you have to sit the National Admissions Test for Law (LNAT). You must register with LNAT to sit the test. You must also apply through UCAS.
Following completion of the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (PEAT 1) you then complete 2 years post-Diploma practical training (PEAT 2) with a practising solicitor. The 2-year traineeship could be with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).
COPFS offers a limited number of Legal Traineeships each year. There is strong competition for these places.
able to analyse situations logically, understand facts and present them clearly
good at speaking in public
You need to have:
patience, perseverance, attention to detail
a good memory
good organisational skills.
Trainees in the COPFS follow a highly structured training programme.
The first year is spent either at the Crown Office in Edinburgh, such as the Appeals Unit or the Crown Counsel, or the Initial Case Processing units in Paisley and Stirling.
In the second year, you would be based in a Procurator Fiscal office and would carry out the duties of a Procurator Fiscal depute, under supervision from senior colleagues, including the preparation and presentation of a case in court.
If you are already a qualified solicitor, having completed the PEAT 2 elsewhere, you can also join the COPFS as a Procurator Fiscal Depute. You would shadow experienced staff as you gain experience of the service and of carrying out prosecutions.
Training in the profession is ongoing as you would need to keep up with changes in the law that may affect the job.
There is a clear career structure with different grades of Procurator Fiscal. You will be employed in one the district offices across Scotland or in the Crown Office.
You may have to move around Scotland to get wider experience. Competition is strong for promoted posts.
You may be able to move to other posts within the Civil Service.
Skills for Justice is the Sector Skills Council for the Justice, Community Safety and Legal Services Sectors. The careers section of their website holds information on the careers within these sectors.
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