The Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has stated that legislation to modernise and reform the fatal accident inquiry (FAI) process in Scotland will be introduced "within the lifetime of this parliament".
The reforms to be implemented will include the remaining recommendations of 2009 review of FAI under Lord Cullen, and will also build on reforms already introduced by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The newest consultation, pubished by the Scottish Government, makes the proposal of extending the categories of death in which it is mandatory to hold an FAIto include those arrested or detained by the police at the time of death; and the deaths of children in secure care, holding FAI’s outside of court buildings and permitting discretionary FAI’s where the death of a Scottish national occurs abroad and the body is repatriated.
"This consultation is designed to ultimately develop a policy that streamlines the FAI process to ensure it is more efficient and robust.In 2008, the Scottish government commissioned an independent review into the legislation around FAIs in Scotland led by Lord Cullen. The process was designed to ensure that the FAI system was fit for purpose in the light of changes to other parts of the justice system. Lord Cullen made 36 recommendations; some of these were the responsibility of COPFS. These have been implemented through the formation of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit. However, this consultation will build on these changes and give further consideration to other vital areas,".
The Scottish Justice Secretary confirmed that the legislation will not include a time limit within which an FAI must be brought or hasten the decision making process where criminal charges or regulatory investigations need be carried out. A Fatal Accident Inquiry cannot begin in Scotland until a decision has been made over whether to proceed with a criminal case or regulatory investigation.
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