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COPFS

Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act

Freedom of Information - Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act

Thank you for your e-mails of 27 November 2013 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in which you seek the following information:

1.  “How many people were charged under Section 1(2) of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 between (a) 1 August 2012 and 31 October 2012, (b) 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013, and (c) 1 August 2013 and 31 October 2013?

For each of the above time periods, how many charges related to (i) a banner (ii) a gesture (iii) speech (iv) singing (v) other offensive behaviour. For each of the above time periods, how many charges occurred in a football stadium? Please list the grounds concerned and the number of charges that occurred at each”

2.  “How many people were charged under Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 between (i) 1 August 2012 and 31 October 2012, (ii) 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013, and (iii) 1 August 2013 and 31 October 2013, and how many of these charges were football-related incidents

I have considered your requests below.

1.  The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) do not hold information regarding the number of people charged by the police for a particular offence. This is because an individual may be charged by the police but never reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

I can, however, advise you that during the periods requested, the following number of charges under Section 1(2) of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 have been reported to COPFS:

- 1 August 2012 to 31 October 2012 = 70

- 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013 = 232

- 1 August 2013 and 31 October 2013 = 52

It may assist to explain that COPFS uses a live operational case management system, specifically designed to receive criminal and death reports from the police and other specialist reporting agencies and to manage the cases for prosecution purposes.  The information held on the system is structured for these operational needs, rather than for statistical reporting or research purposes.

COPFS’ case management system does not record what football ground these reported charges were allegedly committed at nor does it record the exact details of the alleged behaviour. To enable us to identify the information you have requested, we would have to conduct a manual search of all of the cases reported to COPFS that include a charge under Section 1(2) of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. Section 1(1) of FOISA does not oblige a Scottish public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request exceeds a specified financial threshold, which is currently £600.  We estimate that due to the volume of cases, checking the relevant cases to comply with this request would exceed the £600 threshold.

In addition, some of the information sought is available to you other than by making  a request under FOISA, and is therefore exempt from release under section 25(1) of FOISA. I attach a link to a publication by the Scottish Government which contains some of the information sought by you for the period 2012/2013.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0042/00425855.pdf

I’m sorry that we cannot be of more assistance.

2.  While we do not hold information about the number of people charged by the police with an offence in terms of Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, I can advise you that during the periods requested, the following number of charges under that section have been reported to COPFS:

- 1 August 2012 to 31 October 2012 = 8

- 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013 = 20

- 1 August 2013 and 31 October 2013 = 0

For those periods, the number of those charges that were reported as football related were:

- 1 August 2012 to 31 October 2012 = 0

- 1 August 2012 and 31 July 2013 = 5

- 1 August 2013 and 31 October 2013 = 0

The information provided relates to cases which have been reported by the police or marked by the Procurator Fiscal as being related to football. This identifier is used for case management purposes only and is not designed to be used to produce statistical information.