New charge planned for criminals who attack police

Plans to make criminals who assault police officers be forced to give money to good causes in the line of duty pay for their crimes have been unveiled by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.
The Scottish Government also has plans for a victims’ surcharge, to create a fund to help the victims of crime.

Assault on police officers is currently punishable by fines, imprisonment, a Community Payback Order or a compensation order.

Under the new plans, another option would be a ‘restitution order’ which would see criminals pay cash to good causes.

Between 1 Jan 2010 and 28 Feb 2012 there were 4,890 convictions on charges of assaulting a police officer.

The police scheme could see the proceeds of restitution orders donated to charities to help injured officers back to work such as the Police Benevolent Fund and the Castlebrae treatment centre in Auchterarder.

This would see officers assaulted at work receive the very best care, to allow them to quickly return to duty.

The orders would not replace the existing arrangements for compensation direct to victims, the Scottish Government says.

Ministers aim to bring forward legislation to create restitution orders and a victims’ surcharge in the forthcoming Victims and Witnesses Bill which will also contain a package or measures to support victims more generally.

Mr MacAskill said: “We expect courts to deal firmly with those who assault our officers. Criminals should be made to pay for their crimes and it’s only right that victims should benefit.

“We are already considering plans to create a victims surcharge so that those who suffer from crimes can get the help they need to recover.

“Our police officers risk life and limb and put themselves in danger to protect the public. These officers often need and deserve treatment to restore them to full physical and mental health, and I pay tribute to the fine work of the Castlebrae centre in providing this.

“I intend to examine ways of achieving this by enabling sentencers to order criminals to pay into a fund to support their victims. An opportunity to legislate for this scheme is likely to be available next year.”