§ Mr. Darling
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to establishing a Scottish serious fraud office covering all police force areas in Scotland.
§ Lord James Douglas-Hamilton
In contrast to the historical position elsewhere in the United Kingdom, in Scotland the procurator fiscal, as public prosecutor, has always had an investigative role in relation to the whole range of serious crime, including fraud, and has had the right to direct police inquiries. Since 1984 the Crown Office fraud unit has, at the request of procurators fiscal, exercised these functions in some of the more serious fraud cases, in particular those arising in smaller pocurator fiscal districts. The matter of investigation of serious and complex fraud in Scotland was reconsidered following the Roskill report and provision was made by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1987 to give officers nominated by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate similar investigative powers in cases of serious or complex fraud to those exercised elsewhere in the United Kingdom by the Serious Fraud Office. These powers are used in supplement of the procurator fiscal's powers of investigation. Particularly in view of the well-established role of the procurator fiscal and Crown Office, including the system by which all cases proposed for trial on indictment are reported to the Crown Office and considered by Crown counsel, it has not been considered necessary to establish a separate fraud prosecution agency for Scotland.