Recent events both at home and abroad have highlighted the continuing incidence of hate crime. The violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters at Charlottesville USA provoked global controversy. Closer to home, recent examples of racist, homophobic and sectarian behaviour have been in the news.
Offences to tackle racist behaviour were first introduced in 1965. Since then legislation in Scotland has developed in a piecemeal way, currently covering offences targeting criminal conduct in relation to race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. The report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion, published in September 2016, noted the lack of clarity in the definition of hate crime and raised the question as to whether additional groups should be protected. Following the recommendations of the Advisory Group's Report, Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, asked me to conduct a review of hate crime in Scotland.
I am sure that tackling hate crime is an important element in the drive towards creating a society in Scotland where people live together respecting one another, regardless of differences. My remit is wide and is designed to include whether the law should be clarified and harmonised, and whether additional protected groups should be included. In addition, it allows for consideration of aspects of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. I intend to explore a wide range options and ideas. In order to do so I seek the assistance of all who have an interest, whether engaged in the criminal justice system, or as members of existing or potential protected groups, or as members of the public generally.
I would, therefore, be very grateful if you would take the opportunity to consider carefully the issues which are raised in this paper and give my review the benefit of your knowledge, expertise and experience.
Alastair P. Campbell
Email: Independent review of hate crime legislation - secretariat, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House