Call for court fine cash to be kept in Scotland

TENS of millions paid to Scottish courts in fines should be reinvested in Scots communities rather than being handed to Westminster, ­according to a Glasgow MSP.

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Alex Salmond confirmed that more than £80 million had been collected from offenders from courts across the country in the last decade, but that the cash then goes to Westminster.

Figures from the Scottish Court Service showed in 2012/13 there were 2149 fines imposed at Glasgow Sheriff Court, totalling £1,682,000.

James Dornan, SNP MSP for Cathcart, said that, as justice was devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the cash should remain here to benefit communities.

He said the cash could be invested in communities like the Proceeds of Crime money seized from criminals.

Mr Salmond said: "Between 2009 and 2012 the return of the full value would be £7m a year additional income to invest in our communities."

Mr Dornan said he had ­written to the UK Government on the matter.

He said the Scottish Court Service only keeps a small amount to contribute towards the administration of some courts.

Mr Dornan said: "Scotland's justice system is fully devolved and what I am asking for makes total sense.

"It is nothing short of a scandal that tens of millions of pounds are flowing from Scotland to the treasury in London on the back of people flouting the law and committing serious crimes.

"When a fine is paid by someone who has broken the law I think most people would find it reasonable that money is then reinvested in our justice system rather than sending that money to Westminster."

He pointed to the success of the Cashback for Communities scheme, under which money seized from criminals was reinvested in Scottish community programmes.

He added: "In my own ­constituency the Cashback scheme has helped organisations like the Castlemilk Youth Complex put on great activities for young people in their community, which has made a real difference to tackling the gang culture.

"I want to see more money go to projects just like this in every community across Scotland, rather than being sent the Chancellor."

Labour MSP for Maryhill and Springburn Patricia Ferguson asked the First Minister if the money distributed through the Proceeds of Crime legislation should be spent mostly in the communities most affected by crime.

Mr Salmond said the cash was distributed across the country and the projects were all attempting to contribute to reducing crime.

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