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Action to tackle hate crime and sectarianism


Hate crime involves any criminal offence motivated by malice and ill-will towards a social group. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or faith.

Hate crime has no place in Scotland and will not be tolerated. Our justice system is equipped to effectively deal with hate crimes to give victims the confidence to report them and bring those responsible to justice.

We are supporting work in communities, making sure laws to deal with hate crimes are in place and supporting rehabilitation for those who perpetrate hate crimes. This includes work to tackle prejudice motivated by race, religion and belief, sexual orientation, disability, age, gender and gender reassignment.


In August 2012 we set up the Independent Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland   to explore the issue and advise Scottish Ministers. The Group published its initial report  in December 2013 and their final report  in May 2015, the Scottish Government published our responses to those reports on December 2013 and May 2015 .

Alongside the work of the Advisory Group, investment of £12.5 million since 2012 has helped to improve and build our understanding of sectarianism through academic research;

This research allowed community based projects:

Funding news 15-16
Funding Overview 15-16

Overview of Funding to Tackle Sectarianism for 13/14 and 14/15 to develop approaches, work with communities to ensure action is taken in response to the issues as experienced and enable education programmes to be delivered in schools in line with curriculum for excellence and in informal community settings.

Following the work of the Advisory Group, Dr Duncan Morrow (former Chair) was asked to review the recommendations and progress made since May 2015 by the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs to ensure the focus remains on tackling sectarianism and the leadership required to remove its legacy from Scotland’s communities.

Alongside Dr Morrow’s review, an evaluation of the community based projects between 2012 and September 2016 was commissioned. Wren and Greyhound carried out the evaluation to help develop greater understanding of the learning from the programme as a whole. The full report can be found here with a summary of the findings also provided.

Bills and legislation

Independent Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland

The Scottish Government has commissioned an independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland. The review, which commenced on 30 January and will take up to a year to complete, is being led by Rt Hon Lord Bracadale.

The Review will consider whether existing hate crime law is the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice. It will consider: 

  • Whether the current mix of statutory aggravations, common law powers and specific hate crime offences is the most appropriate criminal law approach to take.

  • Whether the scope of existing hate crime law should be adjusted or new categories of hate crime created.

  • Whether existing legislation can be rationalised – for example through a single consolidated hate crime act.

  • How any identified gaps, anomalies and inconsistencies can be addressed.

  • For more information please contact the Review secretariat at secretariat@hatecrimelegislationreview.scot