The Scottish Government has urged people affected by hate crime to come forward to police to ensure perpetrators can be properly dealt with.
Hate Crime Report
The call follows the publication of a report by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service that gives a breakdown of hate crime that took place in Scotland in 2016/17, and also of offences recorded under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.
The figures show that there was a 10% decrease (363 fewer charges) in race crime in 2016/17 compared to 2015-16, which is the lowest level since 2003-04. This year’s figure is 26% lower than the peak in 2011-12.
The number of charges reported with a religious aggravation rose 14% (92 additional charges) and those relating to disability decreased by 6% (13 fewer charges).
There was a 5% increase in charges reported that were aggravated by sexual orientation, and the number of charges reported to COPFS under the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act section 1 rose by 32%. The majority of this increase has been linked to offences from the Scottish Cup Final in May 2016, which accounted for 140 charges.
Hate Crimes Unacceptable
“Any crime motivated by prejudice is absolutely unacceptable,” commented Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing. “While the statistics show a decrease in reported racial crimes, there have been increases in those related to sexual orientation, religion and transgender identity and we cannot be complacent about these crimes are dealt with.”
“Scotland does not exist in isolation from the rest of the world and we know that global events have an impact on the levels of hate crime that different communities are subjected to,” she said. “We must ensure that we have appropriate legislation in place to deal with those who continue to perpetrate prejudice, bigotry and hatred, which is why I commissioned the Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland and expect that its findings will help us to ensure that our hate crime legislation is fit for the 21st century.”
“The number of charges under the Offensive Behaviour Act demonstrates that we still have a problem with offensive and abusive behaviour related to football matches and that we need legislation to give our police the powers required to ensure that football is not immune from the standards expected in the rest of society,” she added.
Tackling Hate Crime
The Scottish Government has also recently set out what steps it intends to take to tackle and prevent hate crime in Scotland.
These steps are focused on tackling prejudice and building stronger communities, and include:
- Creating a delivery group of key partners with Ministerial oversight to ensure the advisory group’s recommendations lead to meaningful changes on the ground.
- Work with transport providers and disabled people’s organisations to deliver a hate crime charter for public transport.
- A public campaign aiming to prevent hate crime by raising awareness of what hate crime is and how to report it and showing perpetrators the impact of these crimes on victims.
If you have been charged with a hate crime offence, or any other criminal offence, then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.