Eyeing the detail of the Scotsman’s coverage, however, I was struck by the reported instances of jury trials in
“The number of jury trials in
has increased steadily in recent years, from 2,750 in 2005/6 to 3,234 in 2007/8. About 50,000 citizens each year are asked to sit on a jury." Scotland
I’ve been unable, through a brisk trawl of the t’internet, to discern quite where the Scotsman found these numbers. There is, at least, some internal consistency in them. Fifty thousand divided by fifteen would add up to around 3333 trials a year. If one adds the incidences of civil jury trial in
"Approximately 575 sheriff and jury cases take place each year in the Sheriff Court; and some 460 jury cases a year in the High Court."
That would add up to a total of 1035, some 2199 less than the Scotsman thinks occurred in 2007/08, or 4563 less than the Crown Office have published as prosecuted in that forum. If the Scotsman figure about the approximate number of jurors called annually is correct, the Scottish Government would have us believe that approximately 48 people sit on each case, something of an inflation. Of course, I am conscious that what is generating this statistical dissonance may be variable definitions across publications. Who is counting what? None of the publications is terribly helpfully in weaselling out the truth. The Scottish Government publication references no other source for their number. Neither does the Scotsman. Nor are definitional qualifications made. The highest listed figures – those of the Crown Office – use the form “prosecutions were completed”. This points us to an unknown variable in the Crown Office statistics, namely, guilty pleas and the rate of contested trials. On this point, one can’t scrutinise their figures closely. As such, the number of trials actually decided by juries may be far lower than the number suggested by the locus of prosecution.