Budget prioritises £3.4 billion for justice

Critical services supported despite challenging economic climate.

Embargoed until 0001 on Monday 19 December 2022

Almost £3.4 billion will be invested across the justice system in 2023-24 to fund vital front-line services, provide continued support for victims and witnesses, and to tackle the causes of offending.

Underlining the Scottish Budget’s priority to support sustainable public services despite the cost-of-living crisis, the funding represents an increase of £165 million or a 5.8% increase on this year’s justice resource budget.

Recognising the crucial role Police Scotland officers and staff play keeping our communities safe, the service will receive substantial additional resource funding of £80 million in the next financial year, a 6.3% increase. Police capital funding has been maintained at £45.5 million for investment in assets including the estate, fleet and technology. This brings the policing budget to £1.45 billion for 2023-24.

Equal access to justice for all is a key priority for the Scottish Government, with an additional £3 million allocated in the budget to safeguard Legal Aid, and £3 million to strengthen access to Justice, to benefit deprived communities and vulnerable groups.

Funding of more than £42 million 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 £29 million 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.”


The Justice Budget is part of a wider package of financial support presented to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 15 December by Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

The extra investment in Justice also includes:

  • An additional £80 million resource for the Scottish Police Authority, which provides safety and security for communities across Scotland.
  • Police core capital funding has been maintained at £45.5 million for investment in the police asset base including its greening the fleet programme.
  • Additional revenue spending of £29 million in the Scottish prison Service and continuing investment in the modernisation of the prison estate, with £97 million in capital funding provided.
  • Total investment of £134 million in community justice services, which includes the continuation of an additional investment of £15 million from 2022-23 to support recovery efforts, bolster capacity, and strengthen alternatives to remand by improving and increasing the use of bail services. 
  • The Scottish Government will provide an additional £5 million resource and £4.7 million capital for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. This will help to meet pay and inflation pressures, and to support essential capital repair and replacement works.
  • £4.2 million is being invested in Legal Aid, alongside £3 million to strengthen access to justice, including in deprived communities and for vulnerable groups.
  • £3.5 million is being invested this year in the continued delivery of the Digital Evidence Sharing Capability programme which will allow evidence to be shared digitally from crime scene to court room, significantly improving efficiency in the investigation and prosecution of crime.
  • Continuation of the £48 million over 3-year funding support for victims’ organisations across Scotland, through the Victim Centred Approach Fund.


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