Yes. Fiscal fines are one of a number of effective alternative options to prosecution that are available to prosecutors in dealing, in the public interest, with reports of crime. In many cases, fiscal fines can be used as a prompt and proportionate response to criminal offending.
I am grateful to the Lord Advocate for his reassurance. As the Scottish Executive intends to extend the use of fiscal fines, will he advise me of the benefits that will arise as a result? Will he reassure me and members of the public that when fiscal fines are used, they will be the correct disposal for the offences concerned?
The summary justice reform proposals in the Criminal Proceedings etc (Reform) (Scotland) Bill, which is before the Parliament, include the extension of the upper limit of fiscal fines to £500 and the introduction of fiscal compensation orders, which will be for up to £5,000. The bill will also introduce work orders, which will be offered as an alternative to prosecution to people who are before the fiscal. It is important that procurators fiscal use the powers responsibly and proportionately, so a training programme will of course be involved. Under the bill, the Scottish ministers will be able to make regulations on work orders. It is envisaged that communities may be consulted on the work that needs to be done in their areas.
I recognise Karen Whitefield's point about fiscal fines. Once an offender has accepted an offer of a fine, then, on request by the victim, that will be communicated to the victim so that they can be reassured that the matter has been dealt with properly. Of course, that will be the case only when there is a victim, which is not the case in many instances. I hope that that gives the member the reassurance that she seeks.