Scotland politics

Criminals made to pay into Scottish victims fund

Kenny MacAskill (centre) met victims of crime, Harry Lindsay and Audrey McGuire
Image caption Kenny MacAskill (centre) met victims of crime, Harry Lindsay and Audrey McGuire

Criminals will be made to pay into a fund to compensate victims, under new Scottish government plans.

The government estimates more than £1.2m a year could be raised.

It said the new fund would not replace the existing financial support to victims' organisations, such as Victim Support Scotland.

Under the Victims and Witnesses Bill, victims and witnesses would also be given a legal right to know the time and place of a trial.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill announced details of the draft legislation during a visit to Victim Support Scotland where he met two victims of crime, Harry Lindsay and Audrey McGuire.

The minister said: "This bill will put victims' interests at the heart of improvements to the justice system.

"We have listened to what people have told us about how the experience of being a victim of or a witness to a crime can be made less traumatic.

"I am confident that the changes proposed in this bill, alongside the continuing improvements we are making to the justice system, will help make what is often the most difficult episode in someone's life a bit easier.

"The victim surcharge, one of the key proposals in the bill, provide additional funding to help support the immediate needs of victims of crime."

The bill would need the approval of MSPs before becoming law.