Charges reported under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act (2012) in 2012-13

Information about charges reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) by the police in 2012-13 under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act (2012).

2. Method

2.1 For this research, analysts from the Scottish Government undertook a review of case files from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) case management database. This database contains the information that is submitted to COPFS by the police after the accused are charged, including a description of the incident, information about the progression of the charge through the criminal justice system, the decisions that were made on whether or not to prosecute, the court's verdict and any penalties issued by the court after a conviction. Since this is a live database, information can be updated and changed during the life of the case. For instance if the Procurator Fiscal amends a charge, the database only holds details of the amended charge.

2.2 The COPFS case management database is not designed for routine analysis but has been used as the source for this one-off research project.

2.3 There are a number of points that should be kept in mind when reading this paper. First, this analysis is based on data that was reported to COPFS by the police and is therefore limited by what was included in their reports. Any analysis of, for example, the nature of the offensive behaviour and/or the links to drugs and alcohol depend on the extent to which this information is provided in the reports. This information may not have always been recorded by the police, for example where it was not viewed as directly relevant to the charge.

2.4 Second, the Act came into force on 1 March 2012, and so was in force for a month before the 2012-13 financial year that is the main subject of this report. Sixty five charges were reported to COPFS during that month of the 2011-12 financial year. Information about these charges is presented in Annex A.

2.5 Third, this report does not present information about the real or actual personal, social or cultural identities or backgrounds of victims that may have been the focus of an attack. The report does not include information, for example about the religious affiliations, ethnic origins or sexual orientation of victims. This is because the characteristics of the victim are not relevant to an assessment of whether a crime was committed and therefore are not required to be recorded in police prosecution reports.

2.6 Finally, the analysis of charges includes cases which are still underway and the findings may therefore be incomplete.


Email: Ben Cavanagh

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