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United front in tackling prejudice in Scotland

Scotland is getting even tougher on those who commit corrosive “hate crimes” based on prejudice, the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, has said.

Speaking ahead of the Biennial Conference on Hate Crime, the Lord Advocate said:

“We have come a long way since 2009 when new powers to tackle crimes of prejudice were made available to police and prosecutors. Our zero-tolerance prosecution policy for such offences sends a clear message that there is no place for bigotry and intolerance in modern Scotland.”

He went on to say that “the introduction of the new legislation earlier this month will assist in investigating and prosecuting those who target and subsequently terrorise or abuse individuals online using threatening communication.”

The new Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 came into force on 1st March 2012, and created two new criminal offences:

– The offence of offensive behaviour at regulated football matches criminalises offensive or threatening behaviour in relation to football matches that is likely or would be likely to incite public disorder.
– The offence of threatening communications consists of communicating to another person material which contains or implies threats, or an incitement, to carry out a seriously violent act. The offence is also committed where material is communicated which contains threats intended to stir up religious hatred.

The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 added aggravations for disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity to those that already exist for racial and religious prejudice.