Freedom of Information: Hate Crime Statistical Report and Deaf Community
Thank you for your e-mails of 8 and 24 August and 3 September 2014 in which you requested and clarified your request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA):
"I am doing a research to find out how many Deaf people in Scotland have been victimised, reported to police and/or a third party reporting centre, and gone to court for hate crimes.
I have studied the annual hate crime statistical report and could see that it is useful. I would like to know if the disability section includes Deaf British Sign Language users. If yes how many?
I am hoping to look from the year of 2012/13 to present.
As it is one of my main tasks, I will collect information and write a report on access to justice systems and police forces for Deaf people in Scotland. Would you be able to advise on suitable research questions for the Deaf BSL users that may or may not have some experience on Hate Crime all over in Scotland?"
I am aware that my colleague referred you to the annual hate crime statistical report which is accessible on our web-site and that you found the information contained within to be useful.
I can confirm that the disability section in the report does include Deaf British Sign Language users.
It may be helpful for you to know that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service's case management database is a live, operating database. It is designed to meet our Department's business needs in relation to the processing of cases and the information within it is structured accordingly. We do not have a separate statistical database, and hold only operational data needed for business purposes. The disability aggravation indicator within our electronic system does not detail the type of disability and as a result we are unable to electronically identify which case reports with a disability aggravation were relevant to Deaf British Sign Language users without carrying out a manual search of the case files. I have now completed my manual search of the case files for this information. Your request specifies "Deaf British Sign Language users". Although the case reports submitted by Police Scotland highlight that the victim has a hearing impairment they do not always indicate that the victim can communicate using sign language. Based on the information available I can confirm the following:
During financial year 2012/13 of the 137 charges reported containing an offence aggravated by prejudice relating to disability, 6 related to a victim who had a hearing impairment, of those, 3 charges related to a victim who could communicate using sign language. The 6 charges relating to a victim with a hearing impairment involved 4 different cases. In 2 cases proceedings were raised in the Sheriff Court. The outcome in one case was that the accused was found guilty and fined £500; and in respect of the other case the Sheriff found the accused not guilty. The charges involved were assault to injury and threatening or abusive behaviour in contravention of section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010 respectively. No action was taken in respect of the other two cases.
During financial year 2013/14 of the 154 charges reported containing an offence aggravated by prejudice relating to disability 6 related to a victim who had a hearing impairment, of those, 5 charges related to a victim who could communicate using sign language. The 6 charges relating to a victim with a hearing impairment involved 6 different cases. In 3 cases proceedings were raised in the Sheriff Court with the outcome for one case being that the Sheriff found the accused not guilty of a contravention of section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010, threatening or abusive behaviour and an assault. The other two cases have trial diets outstanding. The charges involved are a contravention of section 38 threatening or abusive behaviour and sending offensive messages by mobile telephone contrary to section 127 of the Communication Act 2003. One case was heard before a Sheriff and Jury and involved a charge of assault to severe injury. The accused pled guilty in this case and was issued a £500 fine. No action was taken in respect of the other two cases.
Where no action has been taken by COPFS, this has in most of the cases been due to there being insufficient admissible evidence.
In relation to your request for suitable research questions for the Deaf BSL users, it would be inappropriate for COPFS to suggest questions as we have not commissioned your research.