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MSPs question assault case prosecution figures

26 January 2009

Opposition MSPs have challenged the Scottish Government over cases of assault to injury that are being diverted from prosecution.

In reply to parliamentary question by Conservative MSP Gavin Brown, it was revealed that more than 580 assaults to injury cases between April and the end of October last year resulted in direct measures (fines or community work orders) rather than court proceedings.

Mr Brown said it “beggared belief” that someone who had committed a violent assault could get a fine, but no criminal record.

When questioned in the chamber by Mr Brown, Solicitor-General Frank Mulholland said prosecutions were not always justified. He cited the example of two students fighting in a bar, where one received a bloody nose, and questioned whether this should result in a prosecution.

Labour’s justice spokesman Richard Baker accused Mr Mulholland of being "blasé", and sending the wrong message. He said those who punched others in a public place should be prosecuted to set a good example and he hoped that Mr Mulholland would withdraw his remarks.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the Parliament had voted unanimously to give prosecutors the power to issue tougher fiscal fines and work orders.

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