PfG: Nicola Sturgeon unveils new support package for victims of sexual assault

A £2 million package of support for victims of sexual assault and rape was unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon today as part of her Programme for Government (PfG).

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney arrive at Holyrood ahead of the Scottish Government revealing its Programme for Government (PfG). Picture: PA

It was part of a widespread overhaul of the justice system to give victims a bigger say in the process.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that she was setting out a “major package of reforms that will better protect victims in the criminal justice system.”

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The funding for sex crime victims over the next three years will speed up access to support for those affected, with £1.5 million to be spent on Rape Crisis centres and the remainder earmarked for local needs.

“We will continue to work to reduce and eliminate domestic abuse,” Ms Sturgeon added.

Ministers will also consult on new “protective orders” to tackle domestic abuse which can ban violent men from their victims’ homes, even if this is where both live.

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The First Minister also revealed that changes will be made to improve imformation available to victims and families when prisoners are released, with a consultation to be launched into the transparency of the parole system.

It comes in response to calls for a so called “Michelle’s Law” after the case of 17-year-old Michelle Stewart who was stabbed to death in the street in Drongan, Ayrshire, by John Wilson in 2008. Wilson, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in April 2009, has been deemed eligible for temporary release despite only serving nine years behind bars.

Plans to expand the range of serious offences where the victim has a right to make an “impact statement” in court which sets out they have been affected physically, emotionally and financially were also unveiled by Ms Sturgeon.