Hate crime report calls for preventative approach

Michael Matheson

Addressing the issue of hate crime should be a priority for the whole of society, according to a new report that calls for better data collection on incidents and an approach that is based on prevention and education.

The Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion was set up by the Scottish government last year to examine the issue.

Its report sets out a number of recommendations on how to help tackle hate crime and prejudice, and build greater community cohesion.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “We already have strong laws to protect against discrimination and I would encourage anyone who believes they have been a victim of hate crime to report it to the police immediately.

“Our justice partners are doing important work to raise awareness, engage with communities, encourage reporting and ensure that perpetrators of these unacceptable acts are held to account.

“We are continuing to work closely with our key partners and community leaders to ensure people feel protected in Scotland, and anyone found to be engaging in hate crime will feel the full force of the law.”

Duncan Morrow, chair of the group added: “We know that this issue is taken very seriously in Scotland but we heard from too many that reported hate crime is only part of the story. Our recommendations include recommendations to the government and for criminal justice agencies, including the police.

“However, addressing the underlying issue means sharing the responsibility more widely. Schools and teachers are often in the front line. Community services at local level can have an important influence. Youth workers, transport providers and community organisations are often in a position to act more immediately and more effectively. Political and community leadership is important. Identifying ways for people to act without putting themselves at risk is important. And exploring the opportunities for restorative justice may also be important.”

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