Scottish government allocates extra £3m to ‘safeguard legal aid’
Almost £3.4 billion will be invested across the justice system in 2023-24 to fund front-line services, provide continued support for victims and witnesses, and to tackle the causes of offending, the Scottish government has announced.
The funding represents an increase of £165 million or a 5.8 per cent increase on this year’s justice resource budget.
Police Scotland will receive substantial additional resource funding of £80m in the next financial year, a 6.3 per cent increase. Police capital funding has been maintained at £45.5m for investment in assets including the estate, fleet and technology. This brings the policing budget to £1.45bn for 2023-24.
An additional £3m has been allocated in the budget to “safeguard legal aid”, and £3m to strengthen “access to justice”, to benefit deprived communities and vulnerable groups.
Funding of more than £42m will be maintained to continue to reduce the backlog of court cases built up during the Covid-19 period and for community justice services, including alternatives to remand. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will receive a £10 million increase to support service delivery and the Scottish Prison Service gets an additional £29m to support a modern and safe prison system.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “This budget will support vital front-line services, provide support for victims and witnesses, and allow us to tackle the underlying drivers of offending.
“Our investment in policing has helped deliver historically low recorded crime rates, we have more police officers per head of population than England and Wales and new officers here start on significantly higher salaries that those in the rest of the UK.
“The further increase of £80 million to police budgets next year builds on this solid track record to keep our communities safe.
“In this difficult financial landscape it is prudent we bring absolute focus to our key priorities which is why this Budget also continues essential funding to provide emotional and practical support for victims, while safeguarding Legal Aid and equal access to justice both now and into the future.
“Across the whole justice sector, this budget will support delivery of our transformative reforms in a low crime environment where people feel safe.”