The Scottish Government has announced that a new campaign to combat hate crime will be launched next year in line with recommendations made by the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion. The campaign will aim to raise awareness of the effects of hate crime and improve public education in this area.
Welcoming this announcement, Stirling MP Steven Paterson has highlighted how this will help tackle some of the injustices faced by minority groups in the Stirling area.
In a recent report to the Public Safety Committee on Stirling Council, it was noted that earlier this year (April – August), there were 48 charges relating to hate crime locally. Whilst hate crime covers a range of discriminatory behaviour – including disabled, age-related, LGBT, gender, and religious communities – 28 of the 48 charges over this period of time were racially motivated.
According to Police Scotland, the rate of detecting offenders of hate crimes remains high at 75% locally – however, this has fallen from 89.6% for the same period in the previous year. 11 of the reported incidents directly involved police officers.
Commenting, Steven Paterson said:
“It is so important that we speak out and act to combat all forms of abuse and this includes targeting those who discriminate and harass minority groups. I fully support the Scottish Government’s announcement to open up a new campaign to educate people on the effects of hate crime – this is such a crucial challenge to take on in order to enrich our communities and work to ensure everyone has the right to live peacefully and feel secure – no matter who they are or where they are from.
“More people have contacted me about hate crime than any other issue – especially since the result of the EU Referendum was announced. There has been a widely reported rise in hate crime across the UK, particularly against racial and ethnic minorities. Thankfully, we have not seen the same trend here in the Stirling area, however we cannot afford to be complacent.
“One of the challenges that victims of hate crime face is in the confidence to report such incidents. Earlier this year, I wrote to every school in my constituency to ask how they tackle hate crime, educate young people, and promote third party reporting. I am delighted that this is an issue our young people are being educated on and it is clear to me that a wider campaign to raise public awareness of hate crime will be effective in tackling it.”