Scotland

Disability-related hate crime up 50%

unidentified person holding wheelchair wheel Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were 284 charges of hate crime aggravated by a person's disability in 2017-18

The level of hate crime against people with disabilities rose by 51% in the past year, according to new figures.

A report from the Crown Office said there were 284 charges aggravated by disability prejudice in 2017-18.

Racially-aggravated incidents remained the most common form of hate crime in Scotland over the period, with 3,249 charges filed.

However, the rate fell by 4% compared to 2016-2017 and reached its lowest level for 15 years.

Hate crime legislation currently covers offences aggravated by a victim's race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

But a recent report by retired judge Lord Bracadale called for age and gender aggravations to be introduced into hate crime law.

According to the figures, sexual orientation-aggravated crime was the second most common type of hate crime, with 1,112 charges reported last year - an increase of 3% on the previous year.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Race-related hate crime remained the most common in Scotland

Scotland's Lord Advocate James Wolffe described such crimes as an "affront" to the community.

He said: "Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, creating division and fear."

He added: "It is encouraging that many victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and we would encourage more to do so."

Subject of abuse

The figures also showed that last year 49 charges with an aggravation of prejudice relating to transgender identity were reported - seven more than in 2016-17.

There were 198 charges reported under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, however the total was not comparable with previous years after the act was repealed on 20 April.

The figures also revealed 642 religiously-aggravated charges were reported in 2017-18.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Football Act was introduced as part of efforts to rid Scottish football of its long-running sectarianism problem, but was repealed in March

The Scottish government analysis identified Catholicism as the religion that was most often the subject of abuse - with 319 charges - accounting for 50% of the total, and down 17% from 2016-17.

There were 174 charges related to Protestantism and 115 charges where conduct was derogatory towards Islam.

Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing said: "It's reassuring to see more people are coming forward to report hate crime, and in particular disability hate crime.

"A significant amount of work has been done by Police Scotland, the Crown Office and community organisations over the past year to ensure this is happening.

"But I still believe this isn't the full picture and remain concerned that crime motivated by prejudice is under-reported and would urge anyone who experiences it to ensure it's reported properly."

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