VSS Encouraged by Progress on Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland

Lord Bracadale’s Independent Review of Hate Crime legislation in Scotland was published today, 31 May 2018.

31 May, 2018

We have been part of the extensive engagement process, making sure that victim issues have been heard, and welcome the report. The impact of hate crime can cause deep, long lasting harm to individual victims and to members of the group to which they belong.

It is important to have clearly-defined hate crime legislation, along with well-developed criminal justice procedures and appropriate support throughout the whole process for victims. This will increase awareness of hate crime and provide individuals with the confidence to come forward and report offences.

The recommendations take account of the impact hate crime has on victims and that hate offences motivated by gender and age will now be considered as an aggravating factor. This means that a perpetrator’s sentence will now reflect the seriousness of a crime motivated by prejudice.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, said:

“We welcome clarity on what will be considered offences, to deal with threatening or abusive conduct that stirs up hatred in respect of each of these characteristics.

“We look forward to continuing involvement with the independent review team, politicians, and our third sector and justice partners to ensure any new hate crime laws are both understood by victims and workable in practice.”

Lord Bracadale was appointed by Scottish Government Ministers in January 2017 to conduct an independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland. He was asked to consider:

• the current law and consider how well it deals with hate crime behaviour
• whether new statutory aggravations should be created for example in relation to age and gender
• whether the religious statutory aggravation is fit for purpose or should be expanded
• whether we should make hate crime laws simpler by bringing them all together in one place
• any issues or gaps in the framework for hate crime laws and to make sure that hate crime laws are compatible with laws that protect human rights and equality

Lord Bracadale’s report provides his recommendations which are based on evidence and what he has learnt from a wide range of people about their experiences of hate crime and the impact that this can have on individuals and communities.

Lord Bracadale’s report considers:

• Whether hate crime laws are needed
• What is working well under the current system and should be retained
• What should be changed and what the benefit would be
• What policy and procedural developments are underway or planned

What happens now?

It is for Scottish Government Ministers to now consider his reviews and recommendations, and how they would like to take them forward. We will keep everyone updated on the developments on this website.

More information

You can read the main points of what Lord Bracadale said in this summary report.

You can view the full report on the Scottish Government website.

Anyone affected by hate crime or any other form of abuse can contact Victim Support Scotland for help and support on our national Helpline 0345 603 9212 (Mon-Fri 8am -8pm) or contact us via email.