Justice Secretary vows to avoid hate crime 'acceptance'

27 February 2019, 16:21 | Updated: 27 February 2019, 16:26

Hate crime

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has vowed to avoid a "culture of acceptance" on hate crime as a new report showed nearly half of recorded offences took place in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Around a fifth of Scotland's population lives in these cities (21%) but they accounted for 48% of all hate crimes, Police Scotland recorded in 2017/18.

Glasgow had the highest rate of hate crimes in that period at 30 crimes per 10,000, followed by Edinburgh at 26, compared to a Scottish average of 12.

The Scottish Government report suggested this could relate to a relatively higher level of ethnic diversity, with other factors suggested including greater nightlife, the amount of daily workers, visitors and tourists and the number of demonstrations and large events.

The Northern and Western Isles had the lowest rates at under 0.5 hate crimes per 10,000 population.

A total of 6,736 crimes were recorded on Police Scotland's hate crime database in 2017/18, the report states.

The vast majority - 67% - were racist, while the second most common target was sexual orientation.

A further 7% were based on religion, with 4% victimising those with disabilities and 1% targeting transgender people.

These proportions remained relatively consistent between 2014-15 and 2017-18.

More than half of all hate crimes the force recorded in 2017/18 were for threatening or abusive behaviour at 45%, with racially aggravated conduct accounting for just under a quarter (23%).

A total of 13% of hate crimes were for common assault, 5% were offences relating to the 2003 Communications Act such as such as sending indecent or menacing text messages, and 2% were for serious violence or sexual crimes.

Since 2014-15, the number of hate crimes recorded by the police in Scotland has fluctuated between 6,600 and 7,000.

Mr Yousaf, said: "We are committed to tackling all forms of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in Scotland and I welcome the new information in this report.

"This shows that around two-thirds of hate crimes are race-related, underlining the importance of our on-going efforts to tackle racism wherever it occurs.

"While the overall volume of hate crime dealt with by the police has remained stable, we also know that many incidents go unreported and we are determined to avoid a culture of acceptance.

"We all have a role to play in stamping out all forms of prejudice and ensuring Scotland is the inclusive and forward-thinking society that we want to be.

"Our message to perpetrators is clear - this kind of hatred will not be tolerated in Scotland.

"We will continue to support Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority as they work to develop more detailed information on hate crime."