HATE CRIME AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE AT ITS HIGHEST EVER LEVEL IN SCOTLAND

Hate crime in Scotland against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is at its highest ever level, statistics released today reveal.

There have been 1,161 hate crimes against LGBT people recorded in Scotland for the year to 31st March 2018, categorised as 1,112 for sexual orientation and 49 for transgender identity.

But the rise has slowed over the past few years, increasing 3% this year, compared to increases of 5% in 2016-17 and 21% in 2015-16.

Court proceedings were taken in 85% of sexual orientation hate crimes in the year and in 61% of transgender hate crimes.

Hate crime statistics are broken down by Procurator Fiscal office in Scotland, meaning a detailed view of hate crime by area can be seen.

In the latest release, there were significant increases in reported LGBT hate crimes in Aberdeen, Airdrie, Dumfries, Falkirk, Forfar, Inverness, Kirkcaldy and Perth.

However, a number of areas saw reductions, not least in the west of Scotland, with hate crimes charges down 23% in Dumbarton, down 23% in Kilmarnock, down 10% in Hamilton and down 21% in Glasgow, a reduction of 75 individual cases alone in the city.  Dundee, Stirling and Dunfermline also experienced a reduction.

In Edinburgh, hate crimes were up 12% to 184 cases in the year, albeit these statistics cover the period before the recent high profile cases covered in the media, involving attacks near scene venues in the capital.

Transgender hate crime is reported separately and has seen a 17% increase in the year, at 49 cases. The most significant increase in charges came through the Glasgow and Edinburgh courts.

One area with the highest increase in hate crime was Aberdeen – from 35 cases last year to 69 in 2017-18. The city held its first Pride event in over 10 years in May and has an LGBT Development Group, which includes a number of agencies, organising activity to improve services for the community in the North East.

Deejay Bullock, Chair of one of those organisations, Four Pillars, told us:

“On hearing of the increase in homophobic hate crime around Aberdeen, our initial reaction of one of disheartened belief. It is sad to think as we move forward as a society, that this kind of hate crime, or any hate crime for that matter, is on the increase. Four Pillars has worked hard over the last few years to increase awareness and reduce homophobia across the region. However, these stats may be a sign that our work is far from over and an increase in funding is needed to raise awareness and reduce incidences.”

He continued, “Flipping this on it’s head, it’s important to acknowledge that the increase could be from more people coming forward, feeling empowered and confident with the right support that they will be listened to and taken seriously, and that the law is on their side when it comes to hate crime or any crime. However, any number above zero is unacceptable in our eyes and we will continue to work to reduce this with other partners over the coming years.”

Overall hate crime numbers were mixed, with racially aggravated hate crime reducing to its lowest level since 2003-04, an increase in disability hate crime by 51% and a reduction in religiously aggravated hate crime to 642 charges – 43% of victims in religiously aggravated hate crime were police officers.

Scottish Government 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 its reported properly.”

“The Scottish Government has invested £229.7million in promoting equality and tackling discrimination since 2007. Hate crime has no place in Scotland and we will continue to work with communities to build trust and understanding and, wherever possible, prevent hate crime from happening in the first place.”

Of the £19.5million Scottish Government equalities funding in 2017-18, LGBT organisations received 5% (£983,800) including £230,000 for Equality Network, £300,000 for LGBT Youth Scotland, £200,000 for Scottish Trans Alliance, £90,000 for Stonewall, £80,000 for LGBT Health & Wellbeing and £38,000 for LEAP Sports.

Chief Superintendent John McKenzie, said:

“Hate crime is a key priority for Police Scotland. We recognise the deep personal impact it has on individuals, their families and wider communities. We continue to work in partnership with key individuals and organisations to identify ways in which we can improve how we can deliver our services to all communities in Scotland.”

You can view the full breakdown for 2017-18 and previous years by Procurator Fiscal office here:

HATE CRIME 2017-18 BY COPFS OFFICE

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