Scottish Daily Mail

Anti-Catholic bigotry most common type of hate crime

- By Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor

HATE crime against Catholics is the most common form of religious prejudice in Scotland, latest figures show.

Catholics are the targets of about 42 per cent of religiousl­y aggravated hate crime – compared with 26 per cent involving Muslims and 10 per cent aimed at Protestant­s.

Hate crime incidents linked to the victim’s race have fallen by a fifth in the past five years – while attacks against transgende­r individual­s have doubled in the same period.

Racially aggravated hate crimes fell by 20 per cent over the period from 2014-15 to 2019-20, from 4,967 incidents to 3,969, Scottish Government figures show.

At the same time, hate crimes against the transgende­r community increased from 48 to 96.

The figures also show a 30 per cent rise in crimes where sexual orientatio­n was the aggravatin­g factor, with 1,314 recorded last year compared with 1,010 in 2014-15.

Race-related incidents accounted for 62 per cent of the 6,448 recorded hate crimes in 2019-20.

Meanwhile, 20 per cent of incidents were linked to sexual orientatio­n – with the report stating the ‘vast majority’ of these involved the perpetrato­r showing ‘prejudice towards the gay and lesbian community’.

A further 8 per cent were linked to religion, while 4 per cent were related to disability.

Transgende­r identity was seen as the aggravatin­g factor behind 1 per cent of hate crimes and in 5 per cent there were multiple aggravator­s.

Just over half of hate crimes recorded last year, or 51 per cent, were incidences of ‘threatenin­g and abusive behaviour’.

The report looked in depth at reported hate crimes in the past two years and found that in 2018-19, around a third of victims experience­d it at work.

There were also 1,080 recorded hate crimes in 2018-19 where the victim was a police officer.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: ‘Hate crime is abhorrent and insidious and will not be tolerated.

‘Targeting anyone because of a disability, their race, religion, sexuality or transgende­r identity – or a perception of these characteri­stics – is despicable.’

Hate crime was an ‘underrepor­ted offence’, he added, meaning that victims could be ‘targeted on numerous occasions before they report to our officers’.

Mr Ritchie said: ‘We encourage anyone who has been a victim – or who has witnessed a hate crime – to come forward and report it. We take every report seriously and will carry out a robust investigat­ion on every occasion.’

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said that the damning report ‘provides more detail of how hate crime affects our communitie­s’. He added: ‘[This] is a timely reminder that crime motivated by hate is an all too common occurrence, with reallife impacts on victims and those around them.

‘Just from those reported, we know that an average 18 hate crimes are committed every day in Scotland.

‘The fact that visible minority ethnic groups, which represent 4 per cent of the population, experience two-thirds of all race-related hate crimes shows we have much more to do to overcome prejudice.

‘The findings also highlight the need for more to be done to ensure workplaces are an environmen­t free from hatred and from fear.’

‘Abhorrent and insidious’

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