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Offensive Behaviour Bill comes into force

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has come into force to stamp out offensive and religious hatred at football.

The legislation responded to calls from Scotland’s police and prosecutors and gives them additional tools to crack down on sectarian songs and abuse at and around football matches and threats posted on the internet or through the mail. 

The Act creates two new distinct offences, punishable through a range of penalties up to a maximum five-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine:

– The first offence targets any hateful, threatening or otherwise offensive behaviour expressed at and around football matches which is likely to cause public disorder.
– The second offence relates to the communication of threats of serious harm or which are intended to stir up religious hatred, whether sent by post or posted on the internet.