Fresh support for victims amid fears of Covid-19 crime wave

The £100,000 fund will be administered by charity Victim Support Scotland.

Fresh support for victims amid fears of Covid-19 crime wave Getty Images
Humza Yousaf: Impact on victims can be long-lasting.

The Scottish Government is to boost a fund for victims due to fears for vulnerable people and a rise in crime during the coronavirus pandemic.

The £100,000 fund will be administered by Victim Support Scotland (VSS).

The charity already provides financial support totalling £30,000 a year through the Scottish Government-backed victims’ fund.

That will now be topped up, allowing victims, including those supported by other organisations, to access assistance worth up to £3000.

The cash was made available after victims’ organisations raised fears for vulnerable people during the Covid-19 outbreak.

One victims’ charity is predicting a rise in crime including fraud, cybercrime, stalking and domestic, child and elderly abuse.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said that the impact of crime on victims can be be long-lasting “even before we consider the understandable anxiety that they will be feeling, along with most of us, about the coronavirus outbreak”.

He said: “While overall crime, including non-sexual violent crime, has fallen substantially over the last decade, we know that those living in our most disadvantaged communities are more likely to experience crime.

“That is why I’ve decided to increase our investment in the victims’ fund and help deliver a range of goods and services which are likely to be required by the most vulnerable victims during the outbreak.”

The new money will fund food vouchers, help with utility bills, and assistance for domestic abuse victims who may have to urgently leave their homes.

It can also be used to contribute to insurance excesses, improved home security, and replacement windows, doors and furniture for victims.

Kate Wallace, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: “The increase to the victims’ fund is hugely beneficial at this time when people are social distancing, self-isolating and spending more time online.

“Isolation, in particular, can impact people affected by crime as their support networks may not be available in the same ways as before.

“We expect certain crime types to rise, such as fraud, cybercrime, stalking and domestic, child and elderly abuse. The fund will allow us to be adaptive and responsive to individual victims’ needs.

She added: “Victim Support Scotland is committed to providing practical help and emotional support to anyone affected by crime during the coronavirus outbreak and has increased helpline and webchat services.

“We encourage anyone who needs support to get in touch.”

Victim Support Scotland provides free support and works alongside other groups such as Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid.

The Scottish Government introduced a new Victim Surcharge in November 2019, which will go towards a fund to pay for short-term and practical help to those harmed by crime – such as replacing broken windows and locks for victims of house-breaking, or help towards funeral expenses for families bereaved by crime.

The Victims’ Surcharge Fund (VSF) is expected to open to applications in late 2020.