'Be greater than a hater' anti-cyber bullying campaign
17 March 2018, 08:24 | Updated: 17 March 2018, 08:29
Police are launching a campaign against hate crime, urging young people to "be greater than a hater".
In total police created 5,889 hate crime files in 2016/17, with race the most commonly recorded strand of the crime although there is a decreasing trend in such incidents.
However there has been an increase in homophobic and transphobic incidents.
Around 900 of the 5,889 cases involved a perpetrator aged between 11 and 15 and one-third of the 900 incidents (32%) also involved victims in the same age-group.
Officers warn many recorded instances of hate crime have a cyber element as increasing numbers of youngsters use social media to bully their peers online or hide behind fake online accounts.
Police Scotland is now launching a social media campaign and working with schools to target young people with the slogan "be greater than a hater".
Assistant Chief Constable Gillian MacDonald said: "Tackling hate crime is a priority for Police Scotland and we take reports of any such incidents very seriously.
"Young people may not realise that hate crime can have significant and long-lasting consequences for both victims and perpetrators.
"We are working with partners to inform young people in an effort to prevent these incidents.
"It is vital that people report any hate incidents to us. Everyone has the right to live in safety and without fear."
Hate crime is defined as "any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by malice or ill will towards a social group".
Perpetrators may target victims over their presumed sexual orientation, transgender identity, disability, race and religion or belief.
Police believe hate crime is still under-reported and are also working with schools to help pupils gain a better understanding of what constitutes a hate crime, the impact it can have on victims and the consequences for offenders.
Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing said: "There is absolutely no place for any kind of prejudice in Scotland. This campaign will not only encourage and empower young people to recognise hate crime and report it, but also to see the long-lasting impact that such appalling acts can have on victims.
"We are committed to working with Police Scotland and others to tackle this blight on our society and I look forward to seeing young people across Scotland support the campaign and stand up against hate."
Police urge anyone who has been the victim of hate crime in any form to report it to them by calling 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.
Hate crimes can also be reported online through the Police Scotland website or through more than 400 third party reporting sites, which offer support to those reporting hate crimes.