Racist hate crimes fall but homophobic incidents on the rise

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Politicians and activists at an anti-racism rally in Glasgow (Mark Runnacles/PA)

Racist crimes have fallen by more than 10% in a year while hate crimes related to sexual orientation have risen by 5%, new figures indicate.

According to Crown Office statistics, racist incidents remain the most commonly reported hate crime, with 2,880 charges in 2018-19.

This is 12% below the previous year and the lowest number since consistent statistics became available in 2003-04.

There were 1,176 sexual orientation hate crimes in 2018-19, up 5% in a year, continuing a year-on-year rise since this became a criminal offence in 2010 – excepting 2014-15.

Crimes aggravated by religious prejudice fell to 529, their lowest since 2004-05, and an 18% drop 2017-18.

Disability hate crime charges rose marginally by 1% to 289 between 2017-18 and 2018-19 and are at their highest since the legislation was introduced in 2010 but are still believed to be under-reported.

Transgender hate crime fell from 52 to 40 in the same period.

  • Racially aggravation - 2,880
  • Sexual orientation aggravation - 1,176
  • Religious aggravation - 529
  • Disability aggravation - 289
  • Transgender aggravation - 40

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “While overall the volume of hate crime reported to the Crown Office has decreased in recent years, we also know that many incidents go unreported and we are determined to avoid a culture of acceptance.

“Following our consultation on hate crime legislation in Scotland, we are committed to shaping our legislation so that it is fit for 21st century Scotland and, most importantly, affords sufficient protection for those that need it.”

He added: “We are resolved to do everything it takes to ensure that Scotland is a place where there is zero tolerance of any form of hate crime or prejudice.”

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: “Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, creating division and fear.

“That is why the Crown treats hate crime so seriously and why it will continue to do so.

“It is encouraging that many victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and we would encourage all to do so.”

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