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New 2020-21 Hate Crime Figures

 

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) published the latest hate crime figures for 2020-21 on Friday 4th June.

The figures show that recorded sexual orientation aggravated crime continues to rise in Scotland, this could be a consequence of both an actual increase in hate crimes against LGB people (both real and perceived), and an increase in reporting by victims of hate crimes.

Sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most commonly reported type of hate crime. The number of charges reported increased by 5% in 2020-21 to 1,580. With the exception of 2014-15, there have been year on year increases in charges reported since the legislation introducing this aggravation came into force in 2010.


Transgender identity aggravated crime stayed roughly at the same level as 2019-20 with 46 charges reported in 2020-21 with an aggravation of transgender identity, compared to 47 in 2019-20.

COPFS statistics are useful but should not be regarded as reporting the whole picture of hate incidents and crimes experienced by LGBTI people. The Crown Office hate crime statistics count the number of reports by police to Procurators Fiscal (PFs). There is currently no national reporting in Scotland of the number of hate incidents reported to the police, or the number of hate crimes recorded by police. The new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 will require the annual publication of police statistics on hate crime, as well as conviction statistics from the courts, once the Act is fully in effect.

In addition, many hate incidents and crimes are not reported to police. The Scottish LGBTI Hate Crime Report (2017) reported that 81% of those who witnessed hate crimes did not report any incident to the police. Crown Office statistics therefore seriously under-report the level of hate incidents and crimes.

The Scottish Parliament passed a new hate crime law in March 2021. The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 is not yet in force. It clarifies the existing law, and also extends the existing crime of stirring up racial hatred, to cover stirring up hatred against a group of people defined by age, LGBTI status, disability, or religion. The offence is quite narrowly defined – it makes it a crime to act in a way that a reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive, and which is deliberately intended to stir up hatred.

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