Scotland’s Chief Constable Jo Farrell has confirmed that detectives working on Operation Branchform will report their findings to prosecutors within "a matter of weeks."

The probe was launched in July 2021 after complaints that £660,000 raised by the party explicitly for a second independence referendum campaign was spent on other items.

Peter Murrell, the party’s former chief executive - who is married to former first minister Nicola Sturgeon - was re-arrested and charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from SNP three weeks ago.

Officers are currently finalising what's known as a standard prosecution report, detailing their findings and laying out their evidence.

Asked when the report will be sent to prosecutors, CC Farrell told media: "We’ve worked closely with the Crown Office, as you would expect on this investigation,” she said. “That’s the normal way of doing business in Scotland.

“We anticipate in a matter of weeks the report will go to the Crown Office in relation to the individual who has been charged, but the investigation is still ongoing.”

Ms Farrell did not say whether or not anyone else would face charges. Police have previously arrested SNP treasurer Colin Beattie and Ms Sturgeon as part of the investigation. Both were released without charge.

READ MORE: Peter Murrell charged in connection with embezzlement of SNP funds

In a series of wide-ranging media interviews, CC Farrell also described the Scottish judicial system as “very inefficient” compared to the Crown Prosecution Service in England.

She said millions were being taken from the staffing budget to pay for overtime. 

She said the demands of court attendance was also placing a strain on her officers’ family lives.

While CC Farrell said she “welcomed” work done by the Sheriff Principals of Glasgow Sheriff Court and Dundee Sheriff Court to improve efficiencies, she added that it was “not fast enough”, and that victims were often asking officers “why is this happening” due to repeated delays.

She described police officers as “the visible part of the criminal justice system” for distressed victims facing repeated delays.

Ms Farrell said: “A roads policing officer said to me in the early weeks I was here, each time that case gets adjourned it’s the victim of the case who says to the police ‘Why is this happening?’.

“Their lives have been disrupted and their lives have been put on hold.

“What I’ve observed is a system that’s very inefficient.

“That is having a significant impact on policing, it is not joined up at all.”

Asked if a Scottish Police Federation description of “reactive policing” was accurate Ms Farrell said: “I think they make a fair point.

“Some of the challenge that goes with it is partly in relation to mental health – every three to four minutes there’s a call of that nature coming into our control rooms.

“The other thing that I’ve been very surprised at is the amount of money time and resources we have to dedicate around officers going being called into court to give evidence.

“We spent £3 million on overtime and I would estimate a third of those officers were on rest days or annual leave.

“When they call to court, and this is a conservative estimate, only 15% of them will give evidence and then they’ll be called again and again.

“This is happening to victims and witnesses and members of the public.”

READ MORE: Whistleblower claims leadership of Police Scotland in 'turmoil'

On hate crime, Ms Farrell said reports had increased in line with the expanded range of protected characteristics but had tailed off from a deluge of mostly anonymous complaints when the new law was introduced in April.

She said: “The vast proportion of it was anonymous, we had dedicated teams in our communications rooms to manage that.

“So now as we get to the new norm, as I’ll call it, we have seen an increase in hate crime as an extension in terms of the number of protected characteristics.”

She also defended plans to reduce resources spent on 101 calls under a ‘proportionate response’ model.

The Chief said the service would enable a focus on “frontline policing” including probes into organised crime, while reports of fraud, cyber offences, and online sex abuse of children were expected to increase.

She also pledged to cut time spent on mental health calls which could be as frequent as three or four calls per minute on a busy day, compared to domestic abuse calls once every eight minutes.

Ms Farrell said officers would take those in distress to “third party support” but described provisions as a “postcode lottery”.

She said the demands of mental health calls was consuming time equivalent to 600 police officers per year, out of a service of around 16,000.

On Friday evening Ms Farrell accompanied officers on foot patrol in Glasgow city centre and thanked them for their “hard work” on the force.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “We work with Police Scotland, and the courts service who schedule trials, to have witness availability taken into account when trials are fixed.

“We also work with the police to ensure that cases are ready to proceed.

“COPFS believes effective case management has the capacity to transform the experience of witnesses in the justice system and reduce unnecessary attendance.

“The summary case management pilot which adopts that approach, has resulted in cases being resolved more quickly with less disruptive impact on victims and witnesses.

“The interim evaluation indicated a 30% reduction in first citations in the aggregated pilot courts in comparison to the pre-pilot period.”