Scottish Government
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Offensive Behaviour Act

Tackling hate crime and sectarianism remains a top priority.

Commenting on the vote in the Scottish Parliament on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, Minister for Community Safety Annabelle Ewing yesterday said:

“Today’s vote threatens to set us back as a country in our efforts to effectively combat prejudice, hate crime and sectarianism and ultimately to drive such behaviour out of Scottish society.

“The result of the vote sends completely the wrong message about how serious Parliament as a whole is about doing so – but the Scottish Government remains absolutely committed to that objective.

“Evidence shows strong public support for this legislation, the repeal of which would leave a significant gap in effectively prosecuting hate crime.

“The removal of the Section 6 offence on threatening communications would create a serious gap in the law and leave Scotland lagging behind the rest of the UK – where threats intended to stir up religious hatred have been criminalised since 2006 – yet still those opposing it offer no viable alternatives.

“This Act allows prosecutors and the courts to tackle the most serious examples of threatening communications appropriately, and gives the power to impose appropriate sentences for these vile crimes, not limited to the maximum 12 months sentence otherwise available.

“It is incumbent on all those calling for repeal to address these serious questions.

“Following today’s vote we will reflect on the debate and give full consideration to all of the issues raised.”

Background

The independent YouGov Plc poll was based on a total sample size of 1,044 adults in June 2015. It found:

  • 83% of respondents support legislation to tackle offensive behaviour at football
  • 80% of respondents directly support the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Behaviour Act.
  • 76% of football fans directly support the Offensive Behaviour in Football and Threatening Behaviour Act.

The Poll data can be found here http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0047/00478775.pptx

The Scottish Government committed to a full evaluation of the Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications Act after two full football seasons. The University of Stirling and ScotCen Social Research carried out the evaluation of section 1. It found:

  • 85% of people found it offensive to sing songs or make remarks about people’s religious background of beliefs,
  • 90% of people found it offensive to sing songs or make remarks which celebrate the loss of life
  • 82% of people found it offensive to sing songs or make remarks in support of terrorist organisations
  • 60% of people found it offensive to make political gestures at football matches.

The evaluation can be found here http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/06/7094

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014 found 88% of respondents thought football was a factor contributing to sectarianism in Scotland, with 55% saying it was the main factor.

The Scottish Government has delivered £12.5 million of investment to a range of programmes sectarianism and other hate crime over the last five years to March 2017 – more than any previous administration.

The conviction rate for charges brought under Section 1 of this law is more than 80%.

 

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