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Crown pilots witness text reminder program

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scotland’s sole prosecuting authority, has launched a pilot to text witnesses to remind them to attend court.

It is recognised that witness non-attendance is a major reason for adjournments in the Summary trials courts. There are likely to be many reasons for witness non-attendance but in some cases it is anticipated that the witness will simply have forgotten the date, perhaps having received their citation some weeks or indeed months before the trial.

The pilot, which will initially run at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for a four month period, will test the potential benefits of using mobile phone text (SMS) messages, in order to remind Crown witnesses of the date they are due to attend court.

Text reminders will be sent to civilian and professional (expert) witnesses, who are due to give evidence in Sheriff Summary Trials. The pilot will exclude police and child witnesses. Text messages will be sent out 3-4 days prior to the date of the trial.