Extra funding has been found for a victim support fund following an impassioned plea from the mother of a woman murdered in a Glasgow park almost a decade ago.
Beatrice Jones, whose daughter Moira was abducted and murdered in 2008, wrote to MSPs warning there was no money available to provide support for bereaved families.
The Scottish Government has now agreed to provide £10,000 to replenish the Victim Support Scotland’s Victim Fund for the rest of the financial year.
Mrs Jones, who set up The Moira Fund following the death of her daughter, wrote to MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee earlier this month after learning there was no money available to help support a “recently traumatically bereaved family”.
She complained victims’ families are still not receiving the same levels of help support in Scotland as they do in England, where the charity set up in her daughter’s memory also operates.
Moira Jones, 40, was abducted just yards from her home by Marek Harcar, who raped and murdered her. Her body was found in Queen’s Park the following day in a case which the trial judge said had “shocked the nation”.
In her letter to MSPs, Ms Jones’s mother said: “As a victim I know only too well the ongoing pain, grief, shock and bewilderment which will be experienced by other victims and how important it is that they are given both the practical and emotional support they need.
“I become agitated just thinking about those who are not getting this help, who are let down because help agencies are not joined up, or not run efficiently.”
Mrs Jones said despite raising concerns with both justice secretary Michael Matheson and his predecessor Kenny MacAskill, families in Scotland continued to be “poor relations” when compared with those in England.
She said she was “alarmed” to find the Victim Fund was “depleted” in December with three months of the financial year remaining.
And she said the Moira Fund had donated £5,000 at the start of 2016, ring-fenced for the families of murder victims, because of difficulties with the Victim Fund.
She said: “It was never our intention to prop up government funds, and I am sure our supporters wouldn’t want us to do that either, but we did, and do, want to help those in the depths of despair.
“We were told over two years ago that monies from prisoners’ fines would be given to help homicide victims and others but that hasn’t happened as far as I know.”
Mr Matheson said he plans to meet Mrs Jones to discuss support for bereaved families.
He told the justice committee in a letter the Scottish Government had given £70,000 to the victim fund since it was set up in 2009.
He said: “In December 2016, VSS informed the Scottish Government that the fund was depleted and it was agreed that this would be discussed at the next regular meeting in January 2017.
“I am pleased to advise the committee that following discussion between officials and VSS, I have approved a further £10,000 contribution to the fund.
“This government has a positive record in strengthening the rights of victims and witnesses, and the support available to them and their families.”
Margaret Mitchell MSP, convener of the justice committee, said: “Earlier this month at the justice committee’s evidence session with the Cabinet Secretary I raised the issue of the
depleted fund for victims and people affected by crime, including those bereaved by murder, following a letter from the Moira Fund.
“This £10,000 to replenish the fund, is therefore most certainly to be welcomed.
“It is also excellent to have confirmation that the Cabinet Secretary has now agreed to meet with Beatrice Jones and representatives from the Moira Fund which she established, to discuss support to bereaved families.”