‘Following a fatal accident at work, the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit (SFIU) who are a specialist unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), must undertake a detailed investigation into the circumstances of the death. As part of their investigations the SFIU are required to gather evidence, take statements and obtain expert reports where necessary. Once investigations are completed a decision is then to be made on how to proceed including whether criminal charges should be brought or if a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) should be held. This decision is made by Crown Counsel (Lord Advocate, Solicitor General and Advocates Depute) who consider the investigations undertaken by the SFIU as well as a report with recommendations issued by the procurator fiscal who carried out the SFIU investigation.
For those of our client’s involved in Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs) the one thing that comes up again, and again, is the time it takes for the case to get to Court.To start with an example, we were involved in an FAI in early 2019 relating to a death from 2014. That is almost 5 years for the case to be heard before a Court. That is 5 years where a family may be without answers about how and why their loved one died, 5 years without real clarity on the circumstances around the death. 5 years for staff involved in a death, through the course of their employment, of worry and anguish as to whether they did all they could to prevent the death. 5 years for memories to fade, evidence to be less reliable and people involved to have moved on and be more difficult to trace.
Following the deaths of three asylum seekers in Glasgow, a group of local MPs have called for a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the circumstances. While the deaths themselves are not directly connected, those seeking the inquiry consider that they may be linked by systematic failings in the asylum system.
The tragic events which unfolded on Wednesday, 12th August in Carmount, Aberdeenshire following the derailment of a passenger train have left many questioning how safe Scotland’s railways are. The railway infrastructure is, in normal circumstances, relied upon by thousands of people across Scotland on a daily basis. The railways in Scotland have been regarded as one of the safest across Europe with the last death prior to this event occurring in 1994.
International Workers Memorial Day is an event I personally became aware of around 15 years ago when I was asked to attend the Glasgow Memorial event which at that time was held in George Square.
There has been a significant rise in self-harm and suicide amongst prisoners in custody recently.
August 2019 saw the publishing of the Follow-Up Review of Fatal Accident Inquiries by the Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland. The review considered what progress, if any, that has been made by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) since the original report was released over three years ago.
A tragic accident occurred last week at a farm just outside Linlithgow when two men were fatally injured following the collapse of a wall. Two others were also injured as a result of the wall collapse. The men were working on the wall at the time of the accident. Far too frequently do we see new stories of workers who leave their families in the morning to go out to work and do not return. While investigations are ongoing at the farm by Police Scotland, and the Health and Safety Executive, and the cause of the collapse of the wall is unknown, it does cause you to wonder about the health and safety practices implemented for the job. If a wall or structure is unsafe then the necessary safety measures should be put in place to protect the employees who have to work in that environment to prevent accident such as this.