The Scottish Government has launched a new campaign to tackle hate crime, encouraging victims and witnesses to report incidents whenever they happen.
Over 5,300 hate crimes were reported to the Courts in the year to March 2018, with hate crimes against LGBT+ people at their highest ever level (1,163 crimes).
The new campaign features mock letters from the people of Scotland addressed to ‘haters’, indicating the country has ‘had enough’.
The campaign encourages people to call out hatred if they witness it, and to contact Police Scotland on 101 or 999 to report it immediately. The messages will appear on bus shelters, phone boxes, online and on the radio from this week.
Hate crime can be verbal or physical and can be motived by prejudice against someone’s perceived or actual race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The law also recognises hatred online motivated by prejudice in these areas too.
The Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, was joined by Chief Superintendent John McKenzie and Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Aileen Campbell, at the launch in Edinburgh earlier this week. Mr Yousaf said:
“As somebody who has faced Islamophobic and racial abuse over the years, I know how upsetting being a victim of hate can be. Hate crime and prejudice are completely unacceptable and we are absolutely committed to tackling it.”
“We all have a role to play in stamping out prejudice and I would ask anyone who witnesses a hate crime to play their part and report it.”
Police Scotland Chief Superintendent John McKenzie reassured the public that officers take hate crime seriously and sensitively, adding:
“Police Scotland treats all hate-related crimes and incidents as a priority. It is recognised that hate-related crimes and incidents pose a significant threat to victims, their friends, families and wider communities, and the potential impact of such crimes cannot be underestimated.”
“We continue to work tirelessly to ensure we respond to all reports of hate crime and I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of, or witnessed, a hate crime to report it.”
If you experience a hate crime, you can call 101 or in emergencies call 999. Alternatively you can contact a number of community organisations via the Third Party Reporting system instead, listed here.
You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.