§ Mr. David Steel
asked the Lord Advocate if he will make a statement about his policy regarding prosecuting children under 16 years of age instead of referring them to the appropriate children's reporter.
§ The Lord Advocate
Prosecutions of persons under 16 years of age are competent by virtue of Section 31 of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 under which the Lord Advocate's discretion as to prosecutions is reserved. This discretion is exercised in cases of serious crime. It is also exercised in cases where a child is involved with an adult and a separation of trials would result in prejudice to one or the other. Proceedings are also 119W taken occasionally in cases where it is necessary to take a prosecution to enable the court to order disqualification from driving even where a child has not reached driving age, and in cases where it is desirable that there should be forfeiture of an article used in the commission of a crime. Procurators-fiscal report to the Crown Office all serious cases for consideration, and the others they take at their own discretion in terms of a direction by the Lord Advocate. All cases out with these categories are referred to the reporter by the police.