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Hate crime charges ‘at highest level for a decade’, new figures show

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This is the highest number reported since 2011-12. The statistics bring together figures on race crime and that motivated by prejudice related to religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity, reported under legislation which was in force up to 31 March 2024. 

However, the figures do not differentiate between an actual increase in crime, and an increase in the reporting of crime.  

The majority of hate crime charges recorded in Scotland contained a racial element, with 3,392 charges reported. However, the proportion that contain a racial element has generally decreased over the last ten years, from 73% in 2014-15 to 57% in 2023-24. 

The 2023-24 total is the highest figure since 2015-16, although it is still 25% lower than the peak in 2011-12, when 4,547 charges were reported. 

Sexual orientation-aggravated crime is the second-most commonly reported type of hate crime. The proportion of hate crime charges containing prejudice that relates to sexual orientation has increased from 16 % in 2014-15 to 30 % in 2023-24. 

The Hate Monster became the face the the Government's overhaul of crime lawsThe Hate Monster became the face the the Government’s overhaul of crime laws (Image: Police Scotland)

The proportion of hate crime charges that relate to disability has increased from 3% to 15% over the last ten years, overtaking religious prejudice in 2021-22 to become the third most commonly reported type of hate crime. 

In 2023-24 the proportion of charges containing prejudice relating to religion was 9% and to transgender identity was 1%.  

The number of charges related to sexual orientation reported in 2023-24 was 1,818, a decrease of 5.7% compared to 2022-23.  

This is the first year the number of charges reported has decreased since 2014-15 but it is still 12% higher than the number in 2020-21. 

READ MORE: ‘Weaponising’ of hate crime bill stretching police resources

The number of disability aggravated charges was 903 in 2023-24, an increase of 22% compared to 2022-23.  

This is the highest annual number of charges reported since the legislation creating this aggravation came into force in 2010 and continues an almost unbroken upward trend in the numbers since then. 

There were 523 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2023-24, 12% fewer than in 2022-23. This is the lowest annual number of charges reported since 2004-05. 

There were 84 charges reported in 2023-24 with an aggravation of transgender identity, compared to 67 in 2022-23. This is the second highest annual number of charges recorded since this legislation came into force, two fewer than the 2021-22 figure of 86. 

Lord Advocate Dorothy BainLord Advocate Dorothy Bain (Image: PA)

Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain KC, has pledged to continue the robust prosecution of hate crime 

She said: “Crimes motivated by intolerance or prejudice must not be allowed to impact Scottish communities.   

“Hate crime has hugely damaging effects on victims, their families, and the wider community. As prosecutors, we take very seriously our responsibility to protect victims and members of the public from these hate-fuelled offences.  

READ MORE: Poll finds nearly half want Scottish hate crime law scrapped

“Scottish prosecutors are committed to tackling crimes motivated by hatred and prejudice and will continue their work to ensure people can be confident that reports of such offending will be responded to fairly and robustly. 

She added: “Nobody in Scotland should fear being targeted by abuse or violence for who they are. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will play its part in helping to create a safer society in Scotland by resolutely prosecuting such crimes and seeking justice for those who find themselves being victimised through the ignorance or bigotry of others.” 

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