Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today chastised the Scottish Government for “neglecting” their commitments to victims of crime and failing to implement flagship sections of the Victims and Witnesses Act almost five years after it was passed by Parliament.
The Victims Surcharge Fund, which was expected to provide more than a million pounds a year to the victims of crimes, paid for by offenders, was part of the package of measures. It is still not operational.
Police Restitution Orders would also see police officers receiving compensation following an assault in the course of duty. Enquiries by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have however confirmed that no restitution orders have been made to date because the relevant provisions in the Act are similarly “not yet in force”. Fines for assaults on the police reportedly raise six-figure sums every year.
Liam McArthur said:
“It’s unbelievable that almost five years on these flagship features of the Victims and Witnesses Act have not been implemented and, even worse, there doesn’t even appear to be a clear plan to do so.
“The SNP Government paraded these schemes but have failed to get them off the ground. They have been neglected. Between them, victims of crime and police officers have missed out on millions of pounds of criminals' cash as a result.
“These funds are supposed to ensure that victims of crimes can get immediate practical support following what can be incredibly harrowing experiences.
“The new Justice Secretary must set out a clear timeframe by which these long overdue parts of the Act will become a reality. It’s an insult to victims of crime and our police force that seemingly no progress has been made.”