Monday 16th June 2014
With the clock ticking down on the Independence Referendum, it was no surprise that it dominated the headlines last week yet again. Personally, like many of you no doubt, I can’t wait for it all to be over, so we can return to normal politics and focus on the issues that matter.
One such issue which I have had a particular interest in for some time now is the Cashback for Communities Programme.
For those of you unfamiliar with the initiative, it takes the ‘ill gotten-gains of crime” recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act introduced by Labour in 2003, and puts it back into schemes, facilities and activities for young people in communities throughout Scotland. Since its inception, it has taken over £70million out of the pockets of criminals.
During the debate on the Cashback initiative in Parliament last week, which went largely unnoticed because of the focus on the Referendum, I made the point that we need to ensure that those communities hit hardest by crime, should be the ones to benefit most from the monies recovered from criminals.
Rather than spreading the jam thinly across the country, we need to target funding to repair some of the damage that has been done to the communities that have suffered most as a result of drug dealing and other serious crime.
Despite the large sums of monies being spent by Cashback partners, despite a national evaluation of the programme being published last week, it is still unclear as to the extent to which the most deprived communities are being targeted.
Putting these reservations aside, however, the Cashback programme is a good initiative and I hope that in the future we will be able to target more criminals and recover even more money.