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Hate Crime in Scotland

The Crown Office has published a report on Hate Crime, which reveals the level of crime recorded in 2017-18 relating to race crime, and on crime motivated by prejudice related to religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Key Findings

The main findings of the report include:

  • Racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime. There were 3,249 charges reported in 2017-18, 4% less than in 2016-17. This is 29% less than the peak in such charges in 2011-12, and the lowest number reported since consistent figures became available in 2003-04.
  • Sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most common type of hate crime. There were 1,112 charges reported in 2017-18, an increase of 3%. 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.
  • There were 284 charges reported in 2017-18 with an aggravation of prejudice relating to disability, 51% more than in 2016-17. This increase may be partially due to efforts to raise awareness of this type of crime, which is generally thought to be under reported.
  • There were 642 religiously aggravated charges reported in 2017-18.

In addition, the report has revealed that there were 198 charges reported in 2017-18 under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. However, the report also highlights that the repeal of the Act has affected the number of charges reported in 2017-18 and also the number of charges reported with a religious aggravation. Figures for 2017-18 therefore cannot be directly compared with previous years.

Commitment to Tackling Hate Crime

The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, has welcomed the publication of the figures.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scotland’s independent public prosecution service, is committed to tackling hate crime,” he said. “Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, creating division and fear. That is why we treat it so seriously and why we will continue to do so.”

“It is encouraging that many victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and we would encourage more to do so,” he added. “People who live in Scotland, regardless of their personal or social circumstances, can be assured that they live in a just society and that they will be protected from crime – and in particular from hate crime.”

Review of Hate Crime Legislation

The Scottish Government recently received the final report of Lord Bracadale’s review of hate crime legislation in Scotland, and said it intends to consult widely on his recommendations.

Lord Bracadale was appointed by Scottish Ministers in January 2017 to carry out an independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland, and in particular to consider:

  • the current law and consider how well it deals with hate crime behaviour
  • whether new statutory aggravations should be created for example in relation to age and gender
  • whether the religious statutory aggravation is fit for purpose or should be expanded
  • whether hate crime laws should be simplified by bringing them all together in one place
  • any issues or gaps in the framework for hate crime laws and to make sure that hate crime laws are compatible with laws that protect human rights and equality

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a hate crime, or other criminal offences, then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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