'Hard labour' pledge for fine defaulters

Scottish citizens neglecting to pay fines levied for various offences will be obliged to undertake "hard labour" if they cannot pay, it has been suggested this week.

Yesterday Kenny MacAskill, justice minister at Holyrood, asserted that the 6,000 defaulters currently being given prison sentences each year would no longer serve such terms.

Instead, they will have assets such as cars seized or other financial sanctions taken, while those without the wherewithal to pay will be made to carry out labour in their community.

Mr MacAskill said: "We are seeking to ensure that community sentences will ensure repayment for the harm caused.

"Most of these minor offenders are a nuisance and have to be punished but many communities accept they don’t have to go to prison."

He added that the change would allow prisons to focus on "those who need to be punished", instead of using resources on those who had committed more minor offences.

Earlier this week the Scotsman reported that Mr MacAskill had committed to looking "sympathetically" at the case for increased police funding in Edinburgh.