Crimes motivated by religious prejudice rose by 10% in Scotland last year, representing the highest number of charges in that category since 2006-07, according to the report on Hate Crime in Scotland, 2010-11, published yesterday by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). The paper can be found at:
There were 693 charges with a religious aggravation in Scotland in 2010-11, as defined by Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. This compared with 4,165 charges related to race crime (4% down on 2009-10), 50 to disability, 448 to sexual orientation, and 14 to transgender identity.
85% of the religious cases in 2010-11 resulted in court proceedings, 9% were not separately prosecuted (meaning that other charges for the accused within the same case were), 2% were dealt with by direct measures (such as fines and warning letters), no action was taken in 3% of cases, and 1% still await a decision.
Of the 20 religious cases where no action was taken, seven were judged not to be a crime, in six there was insufficient evidence, in five further action was considered to be disproportionate, and in one there were mitigating circumstances. Other (unspecified) reasons applied to the final case.
It should be noted that the statistics relate to the number of charges rather than the number of individuals charged or the number of incidents that gave rise to such charges. Where a charge had more than one hate crime aggravation, it is included in the overall figures for each type of hate crime into which it falls.
These data are highly topical, given the apparent recent resurgence of sectarianism in Scotland, including a spate of incidents against individuals connected with Glasgow Celtic Football Club. The Roman Catholic Church in Scotland has claimed that Scottish Catholics are six times more likely than Protestants to be a victim of bigotry.
Following a meeting of the Scottish Cabinet on 15 March, COPFS is committed to taking forward new research into the ‘religious context of religiously aggravated offences in Scotland’. Proposals for this project are currently being developed. The last study, in 2006, found two-thirds of reported offences were anti-Catholic in nature and a third were football related.