NEW laws proposed by the Scottish Government have been criticised by campaigners because they could lead to sexual predators “paying for rape” through compensation to victims.
Rape Crisis Scotland said victims of sex crimes would be horrified by the prospect of receiving money directly from their attacker.
The group has now urged the government to drop the plans, included in the proposed Victims and Witnesses Bill, which aim to make offenders more accountable for their crimes and offset financial loss suffered by victims. Offenders would be made to do this through compensation orders and a victim’s surcharge.
The surcharge will go into a fund, which will then be distributed to charities, but compensation would be paid directly by a criminal to their victim.
Under the changes, sheriffs and judges passing sentence would also be required by law to consider payments from criminals to victims for “injury, loss or distress”.
At present, direct compensation for rape victims is unheard of, but Rape Crisis Scotland believes the proposed changes will make the payments from criminals far more likely.
Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator at Rape Crisis Scotland, said: “The compensation orders proposed mean funds would come directly from the offender. In our experience, most victims would be very reluctant to receive money coming from their attacker. They don’t want to feel like they’re being paid for being raped.”
In its submission on the bill, Rape Crisis Scotland said any compensation awarded would appear “derisory” to survivors.
“They are not looking for money from their rapist or abuser,” the group said.
The bill also proposes an automatic right to special measures designed to make the court experience less traumatic, such as giving evidence from behind a screen.