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Publication - Research Publication

Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2015-16

Published: 10 Jun 2016
ISBN:
9781786523020

Analysis of charges reported under the act to provide information about the nature of the religiously aggravated offending charges, the accused and the victims of incidents.

26 page PDF

973.1kB

26 page PDF

973.1kB

Contents
Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2015-16
3. Findings

26 page PDF

973.1kB

3. Findings

Number of charges

There were 581 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2015-16. This is a slight increase of 3% from the 566 charges reported in 2014-15. Prior to this religiously aggravated charges have been steadily decreasing from a peak of 896 charges in 2011-12 and from 689 in 2013-14.

Table 1 below shows a breakdown of the charges reported to COPFS between 2007 and 2016. It should be noted that COPFS statistics are based on a live database and therefore the figures reported in Table 1 do not exactly match those previously published in COPFS and Scottish Government reports. The database may change; for example if the Procurator Fiscal amends a charge the database will only hold details of the amended charge. The comparisons in the remainder of this report are based on the total number of charges that were analysed and included in the past reports for 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-5 by the Scottish Government at the time that research was carried out.

Table 1: Charges reported to COPFS: 2007 - 2016

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

No. charges

609

668

633

694

896

689

591

566

581

These trends may have been influenced in the last four years by the separate use of charges under section 1 of OBFTC. This legislation, which came into force on 1 st March 2012, criminalises religious hatred that is connected to football and may be used instead of section 74 legislation (religiously aggravated charges) in certain circumstances. There were 50 charges [7] under the OBFTC legislation that involved a religious element that may have previously been charged under section 74.

When all legislation is considered (i.e. when section 74 charges are added to the section 1 and 6 OBFTC charges there are a total of 631 charges relating to religious prejudice in Scotland in 2015-16 (an increase of 3% from 614 in 2014-15).

Before providing further details of these charges, it is worth highlighting that these charges do not relate to 581 separate incidents. Many of the incidents which took place involved more than one accused, and/or more than one breach of the law, and will therefore have resulted in more than one charge. The bulk of the analysis in this report relates to 'charges' rather than to separate incidents that were reported by the police to COPFS.

Details of accused

Sex and age of the accused

In 2015-16, 524 of the charges (90%) related to male accused.

Table 2 shows the age breakdown of the accused for each of the 581 religious aggravation charges. Forty-one per cent of the charges noted an accused between the ages of 16 and 30 (44% in 2014-15, 47% in 2013-14, and 49% in 2012-13).

Table 2: Age breakdown of the accused for each charge*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Age group

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

<16

12

2

0

0

7

1

2

0.3

16-20

105

15

83

14

71

12

82

14

21-30

229

33

191

33

182

32

155

27

31-40

173

25

133

23

127

22

142

24

41-50

116

17

114

19

110

19

103

18

51-60

37

5

57

10

56

10

70

12

>60

15

2

9

2

15

3

27

5

Unknown

0

0

0

0

1

0.2

0

0

Total

687

100

587

100

569

100

581

100

* Percentages may not add up to 100 because of rounding

Alcohol and drug-related charges

Table 3 shows that the accused was described by the police as being under the influence of alcohol in 266 charges (46% of the total) in 2015-16, a decrease from the 282 charges (50% of the total) in 2014-15. This finding is based on the information recorded in police reports, therefore may under-represent the between alcohol and the offending if there were charges where the police did not note that the accused had been drinking. It was also not possible to quantify the amount of alcohol consumed in any given case.

Drug-related charges refer to incidents where the police reported the accused as possessing drugs or suspected they had taken drugs before the charge. In 2015-16 these accounted for 33 charges (6%), a decrease from 2014-15 when there were 41 charges (7%).

Table 3: Alcohol and drug-related charges*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Alcohol

333

49

345

59

282

50

266

46

Drugs

60

9

28

5

41

7

33

6

* Some charges may have included both alcohol and drugs.

Details of the offence

Location of the charges

Table 4 shows the local authority area where the charges occurred. As with previous years, there remains a large concentration of charges in Glasgow, which accounts for 173 (30%) of the total charges. The number of charges with religious aggravations recorded in Glasgow has decreased by 11% - from 197 charges in 2014-15 to 176.

Apart from the concentrations in Glasgow, there were relatively high numbers of charges in Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Falkirk, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian. With the exception of Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire, this higher prevalence is also evident when controlling for population density. Clackmannanshire and Inverclyde have lower numbers of charges but a high number of charges per 100k population due to smaller population sizes.

The remaining charges are spread throughout local authorities, with most having between 5-20 charges each year.

Table 4: Local authority area where charges occurred*

2012-13

2014-13

2014-15

2015-16

Local authority

No. of charges

%

Charges per 100k pop.

No. of charges

%

Charges per 100k pop.

No. of charges

%

Charges per 100k pop.

No. of charges

%

Charges per 100k pop.

Aberdeen City

7

1

3

7

1

3

11

2

5

9

2

4

Aberdeenshire

6

1

2

1

0.2

0.4

2

0.4

1

0

0

0

Angus

0

0

0

5

1

4

4

1

3

7

1

6

Argyll & Bute

9

1

10

6

1

7

10

2

11

3

0.5

3

Clackmannanshire

8

1

16

4

1

8

0

0

0

11

2

21

Dumfries & Galloway

13

2

9

11

2

7

8

1

5

13

2

2

Dundee City

5

1

3

7

1

5

4

1

3

18

3

12

E. Ayrshire

11

2

9

9

2

7

6

1

5

11

2

9

E. Dunbartonshire

8

1

8

7

1

7

4

1

4

1

0.2

1

E. Lothian

7

1

7

6

1

6

2

0.4

2

1

0.2

1

E. Renfrewshire

10

2

11

4

1

4

6

1

6

2

0.3

2

Edinburgh City

32

5

6

36

6

8

53

9

10

55

10

11

Eilian Siar (Western Isles)

2

0.3

7

0

0

0

1

0.2

3

3

0.5

11

Falkirk

48

7

31

41

7

26

30

5

19

29

5

18

Fife

11

2

3

12

2

4

9

2

2

20

3

5

Glasgow City

281

41

47

208

35

35

197

35

32

176

30

29

Highlands

2

0.3

1

9

2

4

11

2

5

5

0.9

2

Inverclyde

3

0.4

4

7

1

9

5

1

6

14

2

18

Midlothian

2

0.3

2

4

1

5

9

2

10

2

0.3

2

Moray

4

1

4

3

1

3

2

0.4

2

0

0

0

N. Ayrshire

8

1

6

14

2

10

13

2

10

18

3

13

N. Lanarkshire

95

14

28

66

11

20

41

7

12

52

9

15

Orkney Islands

2

0.3

10

0

0

0

1

0.2

5

0

0

0

Perth & Kinross

10

2

7

6

1

4

3

1

2

1

0.2

1

Renfrewshire

11

2

6

14

2

8

28

5

16

29

5

17

Scottish Borders

0

0

0

3

1

3

5

1

4

7

1

6

Shetland Islands

0

0

0

4

1

17

1

0.2

4

3

0.5

13

S. Ayrshire

3

0.4

3

20

3

18

9

2

8

9

2

8

S. Lanarkshire

28

4

9

21

4

7

24

2

8

28

5

9

Stirling

21

3

23

24

4

26

18

3

19

3

21

W. Dunbartonshire

14

2

16

12

2

13

14

3

16

8

1

9

W. Lothian

24

4

14

16

3

9

37

7

20

27

5

15

Outside Scotland

0

1

0.1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

687

100

13

587

100

11

569

100

11

581

100

11

* Scottish Local Authority area population rates for 2015-16 is based on GROS mid-year population rates 2015, rounded to the nearest 1. Available at http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/files//statistics/population-estimates/mid-15-cor-12-13-14/mype-2015-corrections-for-12-13-14.pdf.

Locus of the charges

As table 5 shows, 138 charges took place in a 'main street' [8] in a town or city centre, which is a rise from 117 in 2014-15 but is lower than the 177 in 2013-14. One hundred and seven charges occurred in a police car/station, which is similar to the 109 in 2014-15 and the 113 in 2013-14. The number of charges taking place in a domestic dwelling was 69 in 2015-16, which is a decrease from 83 in 2014-15 and 99 in 2013-14.

Table 5: Locus of charges*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Locus

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Police car/station

159

23

113

19

109

19

107

18

Main Street

153

22

177

30

117

21

138

24

Residential area

126

18

85

15

58

10

68

12

Domestic dwelling

70

10

99

17

83

15

69

12

Football stadium

27

4

16

3

8

1

15

3

Public transport

27

5

16

3

35

6

41

7

Pub/club

32

6

24

4

20

4

25

4

Hospital/ambulance

15

2

15

3

21

4

15

3

Social media

30

4

17

3

36

6

23

4

Place of worship

6

2

7

1

3

0.5

9

2

Other / unspecified

64

9

18

3

79

14

71

12

* Charges do not always add up to the total number reported because an incident may fall into more than one locus type, for example a public transport station outside a football stadium.

Timing of the charges

Chart 1 outlines the peak days of the week and times of the day that incidents took place. There were typically spikes in religiously aggravated offending on weekday evenings and larger spikes at weekends, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays between 20:00 and 00:00.

Chart 1: Time and day of incidents

Chart 1: Time and day of incidents

Football, marches and parades

The analysis included looking at the number of religious aggravation charges that were related in some way to football or marches/parades. This included, for example, if the incident took place at a football match or screening, or at a march or parade, or if the police noted the relevance of a football association within the description of the incident [9] . Again, this finding is based on the information recorded in the police reports and may under-report the links to football and marches/parades if the police did not note this.

Table 6: Charges linked to football and marches/parades

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. charges

%

Football

109

16

96

16

64

11

50

9

Marches/ parades

85

12

34

6

31

5

15

3

Table 6 shows that there has been a steady reduction in the number of charges that were linked to football. There were 109 charges linked to football in 2012-13, 96 in 2013-14, 64 in 2014-15 and 50 in 2015-16.

Within the football-related charges under section 74, 15 occurred at a football stadium. The other football-related charges took place in settings such as main streets, public transport, residential areas, social media, police car/station, and pub/club.

The OBFTC criminalises offensive behaviour related to football, including offensive singing or chanting where it is likely to incite public disorder. Some of the charges that might, before this time, have been dealt with under section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, may from this date have been dealt with under the new legislation.

Under this legislation there were an extra 50 religious charges that were related to football in 2015-16. In total, there were 100 football-related charges reported to COPFS that contained religious prejudice, when both section 74 (religious aggravation charges) and the relevant parts of the offensive behaviour at football legislation are considered.

Also, as shown in Table 6, there was a decrease in the proportion of charges relating to marches and parades; from 85 charges (12% of total) in 2012-13, 34 charges (6%) in 2013-14, 31 charges (5%) in 2014-15, to 15 charges (3%) in 2015-16.

Religious beliefs/affiliations that were targeted

Information about the nature of the religiously offensive conduct was taken from the police report of the incident. There is no separate section within police reports that states which religious belief, in the reporting police officer's view, was targeted. An assessment was made by the researcher about the religion that appeared to be targeted, based on the police description of the incident and the details about what was said or done by the accused. The religious beliefs or affiliations of the accused or the victims of the incident are not formally recorded by the police as they are not relevant to the definition of the crime in the law. This report does not present definitive information about the religious beliefs or affiliations of the people targeted by the offensive conduct.

Table 7 below shows there was decrease of 9% in the number of charges where conduct was derogatory towards Roman Catholicism; from 328 charges in 2014-15 (58% of the total) to 299 charges in 2015-16 (51%).

There was a slight decrease in the number of charges with conduct derogatory towards Protestantism; from 145 in 2014-15 (25% of the total) to 141 in 2015-16 (24%).

The number of charges where conduct was derogatory against Islam nearly doubled (up 89%) from 71 charges (12% of the total) in 2014-15 to 134 charges (23%) in 2015-16. Unlike a previous year (2012-13) where there was an increase in charges targeting Islam that was related to a specific event, the rise this year is not attributable to a single event or pattern, and appears to reflect a general rise in the reporting of these types of charges.

Charges for conduct derogatory towards Judaism decreased from 25 charges (4% of the total) in 2014-15 to 18 charges in 2015-16 (3%).

Table 7: Religious affiliation that was the subject of offensive conduct*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Religion targeted

No. of charges

%

No. charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Roman Catholicism

388

57

367

63

328

58

299

51

Protestantism

199

29

169

29

145

25

141

24

Islam

80

12

48

8

71

12

134

23

Judaism

27

4

9

2

25

4

18

3

Christianity (general)

5

1

4

1

6

1

0

0

Unknown

4

1

5

1

9

2

0

0

Other

3

0.4

2

0.3

1

0.2

0

0

* Charges do not add up to the total number reported as some charges related to conduct that targeted more than one religious group.

Details of the victims

Victims

Information about the people targeted by the religious aggravation is not separately recorded in the police report and for the purpose of this analysis the researchers made an assessment of the victims, based on the police description of the incident. The victim was defined as the main target for the religiously offensive part of the charge. This may have been a member of the public, police officer or other worker, or it may have been a member of the community (for example, if someone was singing a religiously offensive song that was not directed at anyone in particular). Each charge may have included multiple victim 'types'.

As shown in Table 8, the police were the victim of religiously aggravated offending in 236 charges (41% of the total), which is similar to the 233 (41%) in 2014-15. These charges often relate to incidents where the police arrested the accused for a separate charge (which may not have involved religious prejudice) and were then abused in religiously offensive terms afterwards. The general community (e.g. people who happened to be in the vicinity, but were not directly targeted by the accused) were the victim in 111 charges (19% of total) 2015-16 - a decrease from 205 charges (36%) in 2014-15.

Members of the public were the victims in 148 charges (26% of total) in 2015-16 - a decrease from 169 (30%) in 2014-15.

There was an increase in the number of charges where workers were the victims; from 85 in 2014-15 to 99. The 'workers' category includes hospital staff, security staff, shop workers, taxi drivers, takeaway servers, and religious officials [10] .

Table 8: Victims of religious aggravation*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Victim

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Police

273

40

282

48

233

41

236

41

Community

231

34

155

26

205

36

111

19

Member of the public

172

25

161

27

169

30

148

26

Worker(s)

80

12

65

11

85

14

99

17

* Charges do not add up to the total number of reported because some charges related to behaviour that targeted more than one victim or victim type.

Main charges

Table 9 shows a breakdown of the main charges to which aggravations were added. It shows a trend of decreasing numbers of religious aggravations for common law charge of 'breach of the peace' since 2012-13. Charges under the 'threatening and abusive behaviour' (under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010) have increased in 2015-16 after a decrease in 2014-15. Charges classed as 'assault' have increased steadily from 26 charges in 2012-13 (4%) to 50 charges in 2015-16 (9%).

Table 9: Main charges that the religious aggravations were added to * ǂ §

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Main charge

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Breach of the peace

134

20

68

12

54

10

24

4

Threatening or abusive behaviour

385

56

416

71

372

65

427

73

Assault

26

4

34

6

36

6

50

9

Offensive behaviour at football

35

5

14

2

3

0.5

13

2

Offensive communications

4

1

2

0.3

38

7

24

4

Act in a racially aggravated manner

61

9

4

0.7

34

6

18

3

Other

42

6

49

8

32

6

25

4

Total

687

100

587

100

569

100

581

100

* Percentages do not add up to 100 due to rounding.

¥ These main charges refer to the main charges as initially cited, they may have changed during the court proceedings.

§ The charge 'Act in a Racially Aggravated Manner' comes under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and is intrinsically racial, however a religious aggravation may be added where appropriate.

Table 10 shows a breakdown of the main charges by religion. There was a broadly similar proportional spread in the charges for breach of the peace and threatening or abusive behaviour given for offences against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The number of these charge types where Roman Catholicism and Protestantism were targeted is generally similar to previous years' charges.

Where Islam was targeted there was a smaller proportion of charges that were threatening or abusive behaviour and a higher proportion of racially aggravated charges. The number of these charge types where Islam was targeted is similar to previous years' charges. The proportion of charges targeting Islam that were assaults has increased in the past two years; 16% of charges in 2015-16 and 17% of charges in 2014-15 that targeted Islam were assaults, compared to 4% in 2013-14 and 3% in 2012-13.

Table 10: Breakdown of main charges in 2015-16*

Catholicism

Protestantism

Islam

Judasm

Main charge

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Breach of the peace

9

3

11

8

4

3

0

0

Threatening or abusive behaviour

238

80

110

78

76

57

15

83

Assault

20

7

6

4

22

16

2

11

Offensive behaviour at football

12

4

1

1

0

0

0

0

Offensive communications

13

4

6

4

5

4

0

0

Act in a racially aggravated manner

3

1

1

1

14

10

0

0

Other

4

1

6

4

13

10

1

6

Total

299

100

141

100

134

100

18

100

* The charge 'Act in a Racially Aggravated Manner' comes under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and is intrinsically racial, however a religious aggravation may be added where appropriate.

Court proceedings

As explained in this report, court proceedings were commenced for 90% of charges with a religious aggravation in 2015-16 (525 out of 581 total charges). For details of charges that were concluded outside of court please see COPFS 'Hate Crime in Scotland in 2015-16' [11] , which provides more details on the action taken for these charges.

Both the 'Hate Crime in Scotland 2015-16' report and this report are based on the same data source i.e. the COPFS case management database and provides information on convictions for concluded charges. Please note that the convictions information is provisional and subject to change as some charges are yet to be dealt with in the system. Latest figures, at the time of publication, show that court proceedings had been concluded for 295 of these main charges. Of these concluded charges 251 resulted in a conviction (85%).

Final statistics on convictions for 2015-16 will be presented in the next Scottish Government 'Criminal Proceedings in Scotland' publication [12] . Please note that there are differences in the way the Criminal Proceedings statistics measure activity in the courts to the figures in this report. This is because Criminal Proceedings statistics only measure the main charge within in a single court case. As there can be more than one charge associated with a case the charge level information in this publication is higher. There will also be timing differences since the figures in this report are based on the year of the report to COPFS, while the Criminal Proceedings figures are based on year of disposal from the courts.

As shown in Table 11, the most common disposal recorded was a monetary penalty for 94 charges (37%) - this is an increase from 77 charges but the same proportion (37%) as in 2014-15. A community penalty [13] was given for 79 charges (31%), an increase from 60 charges (29%) in 2014-15. Custody was the disposal for 58 charges (23%) - this is an increase from 47 charges but the same proportion in 2014-15. Other [14] disposals were recorded for the remaining 20 charges (8%).

Table 11: Recorded disposals*

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

Disposal

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

No. of charges

%

Monetary penalty

104

40

93

39

77

37

94

37

Community penalty

61

23

72

30

60

29

79

31

Custody

60

23

57

24

47

23

58

23

Other

37

14

16

7

22

11

20

8

Total

262

100

238

100

206

100

251

100

Previous years' data is based on information previously published and has not been updated.


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