Almost a third of rejected fiscal fines saw no further action

Fiscal fines can be imposed on people charged with minor offences, but the accused can opt for prosecution instead.

Almost a third of rejected fiscal fines saw no further action iStock

Nearly one third of all fiscal fines handed out that were rejected resulted in no further action, new figures show.

Fiscal fines can be imposed on people charged with minor offences – usually in amounts smaller than £300 – but do not constitute an admission of guilt and are not recorded as a conviction.

However, the accused can reject the offer of a fine in favour of prosecution.

In the past three years, 30% of rejected offers of fiscal fines have resulted in no further action from prosecutors, a freedom of information request from the Scottish Conservatives has found.

The figures show, 1344 people refused the offer of a fiscal fine and 411 of those faced no further action.

In 2018-19, 189 of the 488 rejected resulted in no further action, while 180 of the 449 refused offers in 2019-20 did not result in prosecution.

In 2020-21, the number dropped considerably – which could be the result of the coronavirus pandemic – with just 42 of the 407 offers being rejected.

Scottish Conservative community justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: “These shocking new figures show the reality of the SNP’s soft-touch justice system, which routinely betrays crime victims.

“More than one in three accused criminals who refuse to pay a fine are facing no further action.”

In June, deputy first minister John Swinney addressed fiscal fines in Holyrood during a debate on the extension of some emergency measures put in place as a result of the pandemic.

He said: “Anyone who is offered a fiscal fine as an alternative to prosecution may refuse such an offer by giving notice to the court to that effect.

“In such an event, the refusal is treated as a request by the alleged offender to be prosecuted for the offence, in which case the procurator fiscal decides what action to take in the public interest.”

Findlay said the deputy first minister’s assertion that a rejection of a fine is a “request” to be prosecuted is a “sham”.

He said: “The message this sends is clear – alleged offenders know they can break the law with impunity as they won’t pay the price under this SNP Government.

“The Scottish Conservatives have put forward detailed proposals for a Victims Law that would stack the system in favour of victims, not criminals.

“As we build Scotland’s real alternative to the SNP, we will take that Victims Law forward and make the necessary improvements to justice in this country that the SNP have neglected for 14 years and counting.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Use of non-court disposals for less serious offending is a long-standing and recognised part of the Scottish justice system which the Scottish Parliament has legislated to provide powers for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to use.

“Decisions in individual cases as to whether to offer a non-court disposal and the action taken if such an offer is not taken up is entirely a matter for the independent Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”

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