Regulations coming into force in Scotland on 25 November 2019 will require convicted offenders including organisations, who receive a court fine, to contribute towards the cost of supporting victims of crime by paying an additional financial penalty into the Victim Surcharge Fund (“the Fund”).
The surcharge will be applied automatically at the time of sentencing and is linked to the level of fine imposed. The minimum surcharge is £10 (for fines up to £200) but for larger penalties (fines over £10,000) the surcharge is a fixed 7.5%. This is significantly higher than a similar scheme in England where the maximum surcharge is £181.
This will have a significant impact on offences such as health and safety breaches or environmental offences where for large organisations fines in excess of £1 million may be imposed. That would result in an additional surcharge of £75,000 or more. There is no upper limit. Although the surcharge will be used to provide financial assistance to victim support organisations, who can apply for funding, the surcharge applies to all offences whether or not any individual has suffered direct harm.
Further guidance on the operation of the Fund will be published by 25 May 2020 with a report on the administration of the Fund being published no later than 31 July 2021.
We will be watching with interest to see how the scheme develops over time and will keep you informed.