MacAskill defends ‘secret fines’

The Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill MSP, has defended secret guidelines for prosecuters regarding which offences could be dealt with by means of a Fixed Penalty Notice.

COPFS refuses to publish these guidelines and requests to do so by the BBC and Criminal Defence Lawyers have been refused.  Mr MacAskill has said that it is not for him to direct COPFS on the matter.

Fiscal fines are part of the summary justice reforms introduced by the SNP administratio.  They are designed to deal with low level crime such as vandalism and breach of the peace in order to ease the pressure on the Courts.

Defence lawyer Colin Bissett told The Investigation, a BBC Radio Scotland documentary which looked into the matter:

We have heard all sorts of rumours as to what these guidelines are – famously the three-stitch rule.

If someone is the victim of an assault, but the resulting injury does not require three stitches or more, then its appropriate for a person to be issued with a fixed penalty.

Our suspicion is that it is in the guidelines and the real reason why these guidelines are not being disclosed is that the public would be frankly disgusted at the way in which they are treating cases of this nature.