The Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, has reaffirmed the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s robust approach to tackling hate crime following the publication of new figures on the issue.
The report on Hate Crime in Scotland 2020-21 shows there has been an increase of 4% in the total number of charges reported to COPFS containing at least one element of hate crime.
Following the publication the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, said:
“Scottish prosecutors are committed to tackling crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice. Any victim of such offending should come forward and report it to the appropriate authorities.
“They can be confident that prosecutors will continue to respond to any such report robustly, appropriately and fairly.
“These crimes do not only affect individual victims; they have far reaching consequences for society as a whole. No one should be targeted because of their race, religion, disability, transgender identity or sexual orientation and the Crown takes seriously its responsibility to protect the public from such offending.”
There were 3,285 charges relating to race crime reported in 2020-21, an increase of 6% compared to the previous year. The number of charges with a sexual orientation aggravation increased by 5% this year to 1,580.
The majority of hate crime charges contain a racial element, while the proportion that relate to sexual orientation has increased from 11% in 2011-12 to 29% in 2020-21.
The number of disability aggravated charges increased by 14% to 448 in 2020-21.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Keith Brown said:
“We recognise that hate crime has a hugely damaging effect on victims, their families and communities and we all must play our part to challenge it. These figures show there is more to do to tackle hatred and prejudice in Scotland and we will continue our work to ensure it will not be tolerated.
“As we press ahead with the development of our new hate crime strategy, which will include implementation of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021, we will consider how we can continue to raise awareness and encourage reporting. We will also consider how to more effectively break down barriers to reporting.
“It is important that we continue to take steps to tackle hate crime, continue to raise awareness and work to reassure communities that we are doing everything we can to prevent hate crime in all its forms. Anyone who experiences or witnesses a hate crime should report it to the police or via a third party reporting centre.”
The full report can be accessed here: Hate Crime in Scotland 2020-21.pdf (copfs.gov.uk)