Proposals to make offenders pay towards the cost of supporting victims of crime are to be included in new legislation, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has announced.
The Scottish Government has previously carried out a consultation on whether a new victim surcharge - which could raise more than £1.2 million a year - should be brought in.
Mr MacAskill announced it was one of the measures to be included in a new Bill that aims to help both victims and witnesses. The Justice Secretary said the Victims and Witnesses Bill would "put victims' interests at the heart of improvements to the justice system".
He said: "We have listened to what people have told us about how the experience of being a victim of or a witness to a crime can be made less traumatic. I am confident that the changes proposed in this Bill, alongside the continuing improvements we are making to the justice system, will help make what is often the most difficult episode in someone's life a bit easier."
It is proposed that the victim surcharge would be imposed on all offenders who are given a fine by the courts. The amount they would pay under the scheme would be based on a sliding scale, depending on the severity of their offence.
Mr MacAskill described the victim surcharge as being "one of the key proposals in the Bill", adding it would "provide additional funding to help support the immediate needs of victims of crime".
It would not replace existing support provided to victims' organisations, such as Victim Support Scotland (VSS). These bodies receive more than £5 million a year, with the Scottish Government committed to maintaining that level of support over the next two years.
As part of its work, Victim Support Scotland operates a Victims' Fund, with Mr MacAskill saying the surcharge scheme "will likely operate on a similar model and be aimed at meeting the immediate needs of victims of crime".
David McKenna, the chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, explained that a "great deal" could be done with the additional cash a victim surcharge would raise.
He said: "The VSS Victims' Fund has been able to assist about 200 individuals over almost four years. These were people who literally had no access to assistance of any kind, and at a time when they were desperately in need of support. I believe that with access to additional funds we could do a great deal more to help those most in need."