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Criminals could have to pay towards supporting victims

A surcharge would be levied on top of court fines with the cash going towards victim support groups.

Victim support: Criminals could pay surcharge. <strong>Getty Images</strong>
Victim support: Criminals could pay surcharge. Getty Images

Convicted criminals who are fined by the courts could soon have to pay extra money towards supporting victims.

A surcharge would be levied on top of all fines in Scottish courts, with the cash going towards a fund available to victim support groups.

The organisations would be able to apply to the fund for the costs of providing practical support, such as new windows and locks for people who have been robbed or funeral expenses for families of murder victims.

Under the plan, victim surcharges would range from £10 on fines up to £200, to £350 on fines between £5000 and £10,000, while court-ordered fines of more than £10,000 would incur a charge of 7.5% of the fine.

The proposal will be voted on by MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday and, if approved, will apply to all crimes committed on or after November 25 2019, with payments from the fund starting six to 12 months later.

Ahead of the vote in Holyrood, justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Experiencing crime can be an isolating and frightening experience and we are committed to improving the experiences of victims in our justice system.

“It’s only right that criminals should pay towards helping victims to recover and move on with their lives.

“The money raised through the surcharge will pay for practical support that will make a real difference to victims and their families.

“While Scotland’s long-term fall in crime means fewer people fall prey to criminals, we are continuing to invest £18m annually to improve support, advice and information for victims.

“This new fund will be a valuable addition to support available and we have worked with the UK Government to ensure the necessary legislative arrangements are in place to allow its operation.

“Over the coming year we will also be carrying out further work to better understand where the gaps are in how Scotland supports victims and witnesses.”

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