'Light touch' Scottish justice system claims as offender spending outstrips victims

The Scottish Government has been accused of a "light-touch" approach to the justice system as it emerged spending on services for offenders is twice as high as support for victims.
Offenders doing community serviceOffenders doing community service
Offenders doing community service

Victim Support Scotland (VSS) has said £40.8 million is being spent on offender services this year, more than double the £18.7m spent on victims.

The funding of offender services has increased ten times more than help for victims and witnesses in the past two years, the figures also show.

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The draft budget for 2020/21 set aside £40.8m for offender services, up from £32.3m in 2018/19, Victim Support Scotland says in a submission to MSPs.

Victim and witness support received a £800,000 rise from £17.9m to £18.7m.

Tory Justice spokesman Liam Kerr said: “These figures in the submission by Victim Support Scotland starkly show where the SNP’s priorities lie.

“It has been clear for years that the SNP not only pursues a light-touch approach to justice, but ignores the victims of crime.

"These vast budget differentials shows how soft they are on crime, with double the amount being spent on criminals than victims, and the gap is growing every year.

“The failure by the SNP to deliver on Michelle’s Law shows a total lack of concern for victims and this will add even further dismay for victims and families.

“The Scottish Conservatives would refocus the criminal justice effort by bringing forward a Victims’ Bill as soon as possible in the next Parliament to put victims first.”

Victim Support Scotland also warns that its costs are likely to rise post-Covid as a result of the need for digitalisation and a loss of volunteers.

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"In order to continue to adapt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and additionally, Victim Support Scotland need to increase the opportunities for victims to contact us through a variety of platforms,” the organisation states.

"This would require a more sophisticated digital and telephony system to allow this."

The fall in volunteering has also been compounded by fluctuations depending on the tiered system in operation.

"Staff have had to step into volunteer roles,” the organisation adds.

"This is an issue particularly with support to witnesses at court. Depending on future circumstances, VSS may require additional staff to be able to deliver support to vulnerable witnesses."

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