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New Cold Case Unit for Scotland

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, has announced plans to create a new 'cold case' investigation unit to assist the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the police with unsolved murders and other serious crimes in Scotland.

The specialist unit is designed to assist and support Procurators Fiscal and the police in reviewing unsolved crimes from across Scotland to identify those meriting fresh investigation to break the stalemate in a criminal case.

The Lord Advocate said:

“Justice will pursue down the years those who have so far evaded detection for their crimes. The passage of time should be no protection. We will not give up and will seek to identify the perpetrator using new forensic and other investigation techniques and prosecute them for their crimes.

“Our specialist unit will work with local prosecutors and the police to identify unsolved murders for renewed investigation."

The initiative was welcomed by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and the Scottish Police Services Authority. Tom Nelson, director of the Scottish Police Services Authority Forensic Services, said: “Technological advancements such as improved ballistics and fingerprint databases and DNA techniques means we are able to revisit material obtained from the original investigation, providing officers with a new avenue to investigate that could be the key to unlocking a cold case.”

It should be noted that such technological advancements may lead to new evidence being available to the Crown to prosecute an accused who was previously acquitted of a crime in Scotland. For these issues, see our previous blog post on the passing of the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Bill.

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