Lords have backed plans to order anyone convicted of attacking a police officer in Scotland to pay restitution.
Scotland Office spokesman Viscount Younger of Leckie said there had been “shocking cases” of officers being purposefully spat or coughed at since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
During the first three weeks of lockdown in Scotland there had been over 400 crimes against police and over 100 cases had a “Covid element”.
Lord Younger said police assaults were not confined to the pandemic, adding: “This is not acceptable.”
He was introducing the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Modification) Order 2020, which has already been backed by MPs.
It will enable Scottish courts to impose a restitution order on offenders found guilty of assaulting a police officer with the money paid into a fund to give physical and mental support to police.
Lord Younger said the Order demonstrated the commitment shown by the Government to strengthening the devolution settlement and “make a real difference to the lives of affected police officers”.
Labour former minister Lord Foulkes of Cumnock said it was “outrageous” that there had been so many assaults on police since the start of the pandemic and hoped the new restitution orders would act as a deterrent.
The Order was given cross-party backing but several peers questioned why it had taken nearly seven years to bring the legislation forward since it was first mooted by the Scottish Government.
Lord Younger said the UK Government had received the full policy proposal last year and, despite the pressures of Brexit and Covid-19, had acted “swiftly” to deliver it for Scotland.
The Scottish Government is expected to debate its own regulations later this year and to bring in restitution orders by the end of the year, he said. “These questions are more for the Scottish Government to answer.”