In the Media

Criminals who assault Scottish police to be forced to pay for their treatment

PUBLISHED April 12, 2012

Police and victim support groups have welcomed moves by the Scottish government to make criminals who assault police officers pay to help fund their recuperation.

The Scottish justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, announced the initiative, one of the first of its kind in the world, during a visit to a police treatment centre in Auchterarder, Perthshire, which is part funded by contributions from officers' salaries.

In the last year there were 4,899 convictions for assaults on police officers in the Scottish courts. The new proposal would form part of the forthcoming victims and witnesses bill.

Ministers are also considering levying a victims' surcharge on criminals, on top of existing compensation orders, to create a fund that would provide help to all victims of crime. MacAskill said: "The police treatment centres put right the damage done by criminal assaults largely with money raised by donations from the victims. This is the reverse of fair. Instead it is right to expect criminals who assault police to contribute to payment for this treatment. We believe proceeds from penalties should be paid into a fund for officers.

"This is a win-win situation which will result in restitution for offenders and recuperation for victims of crime."

At the moment, anyone convicted of assaulting a police officer in the line of duty faces a fine, imprisonment, a community payback order or a compensation order. Under the new plan, another option would be for anyone convicted of such an assault to pay cash to good causes through a restitution order.