Scotland

MacAskill chairs crime victims summit

Police handcuffs
Image caption Victim Support Scotland said the summit was a chance to put victims at the heart of the system

A summit aimed at strengthening the voice of victims of crime in the Scottish legal system is being held.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will chair the inaugural meeting, which will consider plans to ensure victims of crime are a "top priority".

The event, being held in Edinburgh, will feature representatives from the police, the courts and victims' groups.

Victim Support Scotland said the summit was a chance to put victims at the heart of the justice system.

Mr MacAskill said the summit was about bringing together organisations, that worked with victims of crime, to decide what future approaches should be.

He added: "We must remember that most members of the public who come in contact with the system do so as victims.

"Victims can also be doubly victimised, first by the crime and then by the criminal justice system.

"To maintain the public's goodwill, it is therefore vital that victims are treated with dignity and respect and are looked on as individuals with a legitimate interest in the case that affects them."

'New direction'

Labour has criticised the SNP's record on the issue.

The party's justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said: "While I hope today's victims' summit is productive, the fact is it is too little too late from the SNP.

"The SNP remain committed to scrapping short prison sentences; a policy that in no way serves the victims of crime and will put the public at danger.

"While the SNP are holding their first ever summit on victims' rights, they blocked Labour plans to create a victims commissioner to champion the rights of victims of crime."

Victim Support Scotland has called for victims of crime to be given a voice in community sentences in the past.

David McKenna, chief executive of the organisation, said: "Today's summit signals the beginning of a new direction for victims of crime in Scotland.

"Together we have the opportunity to ensure that victims of crime remain a top priority for justice."

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