The Scottish Government has set out a series of practical measures it intends to take to tackle and prevent hate crime in Scotland. These measures will be focused primarily on tackling prejudice and building stronger communities.
Hate crime is defined in law as a criminal act that is aggravated by prejudice held by the perpetrator in relation to the victim or victims. Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
The announcement of new measures follows the publication of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime’s recommendations last September.
New Measures to Tackle Hate Crime
According to Communities and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance, the new measures to be introduced 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.
- Working with transport providers and disabled people’s organisations to deliver a hate crime charter for public transport.
- Tackling hate crime in the workplace, focusing on frontline staff, working with the STUC and others to gather evidence.
- 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.
- Adopting the International Holocaust Memorial Trust’s definition of anti-Semitism – driving work to tackle this form of prejudice.
No Place for Hate Crime
“These actions will drive practical measures in the months and years ahead that demonstrate Scotland’s leadership in the fight against hate crime,” commented Angela Constance. “We are making abundantly clear that there is no place here for intolerance, discrimination or violence.”
“We must continue to tackle the underlying causes and conditions that allow hatred and intolerance to flourish,” she added. “It is vital in these challenging times that we remain united, which is why we are redoubling our efforts to promote fairness, equality and a respect right across our society.”
Hate Crime Figures
The level of hate crime in Scotland was revealed recently in statistics published by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service.
These figures show that in 2016-17:
- Racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime. There were 3,349 charges reported in 2016-17, 10% fewer than in 2015-16, and the lowest number reported since 2003-04.
- Sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most common type of hate crime, with 1,075 charges reported, an increase of 5%. With the exception of 2014-15, there have been year on year increases in charges reported since the legislation introducing this aggravation came into force in 2010.
- The number of religiously aggravated charges reported, at 673, is 14% higher than in 2015-16. This is the highest number reported since 2012-13.
- There were 377 charges reported under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, 32% higher than in 2015-16. This is the highest annual number of charges reported since this legislation came into force. Over one third of the charges (140) related to a single football match, the Rangers v Hibs cup final in May 2016.
If you have been charged with a hate crime offence then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.