Consultation on amending Scottish hate crime legislation: analysis of responses

Analysis of stakeholders' responses to our consultation on amending Scottish hate crime legislation.

2. The respondents and responses

2.1 This chapter provides information about the respondents to the consultation and the responses submitted.

Number of responses received and number included in the analysis

2.2 The consultation received 1,174 responses. Fifteen responses were removed prior to analysis for the following reasons:

  • Seven respondents submitted more than one response to the consultation. In two cases, one of the responses was a subset of the second; in these two cases, the more complete response was retained in the analysis and the shorter response was removed. This resulted in the removal of two responses. Five respondents submitted two different responses. In each of these cases, responses from the same individual were combined to create a single amalgamated response. Where there were differences in the respondent’s answers to closed questions, the answers from the more recent response were used in the amalgamated response. This process resulted in the removal of five responses – while the five amalgamated responses were retained for the analysis.
  • Four responses were removed as they were entirely blank.
  • Four responses were excluded because of their offensive content.

2.3 Thus, the analysis in this report is based on 1,159 responses (1,174 submitted responses minus 15 removed responses).

About the respondents

2.4 Responses were submitted by 1,051 individuals and 108 organisations or groups. (See Table 2.1.)

Table 2.1: Types of respondent

Respondent type












2.5 Table 2.2 below provides further information about the organisational respondents. More than two-fifths of the organisations responding to the consultation (44%; 47 out of 108) were third sector organisations. This group included organisations involved in the justice sector (e.g. working with victims or offenders), organisations with a general interest in equalities, and organisations working with or on behalf of particular groups (e.g. women’s groups, those with disabilities, etc.). Public sector and partnership bodies and faith groups accounted for around a quarter (23%; 25 out of 108) and a sixth (17%; 18 out of 108) of organisations respectively. The ‘other organisational respondents’ category is made up of law and justice bodies, including both statutory agencies and professional bodies; trade unions; and other organisations with an interest in issues related to hate crime. A complete list of organisational respondents is provided at Annex 2.

Table 2.2: Organisation / group types

Organisation type



Third sector organisations



Public sector / partnership bodies



Faith groups



Other organisational respondents






The ‘Other organisational respondents’ category includes law and justice bodies, trade unions, and other organisations with an interest in issues related to hate crime. 

Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

Consultation events

2.6 As noted in Chapter 1, the Scottish Government organised a series of 11 consultation events across Scotland. These attracted around 400 participants in total. A summary of the main points raised was produced by the consultation team for each of these events, and the content of each of these summaries has been included in the qualitative analysis presented in this report.    

The content of responses

2.7 A substantial proportion of responses to the consultation focused on specific issues or reflected very specific viewpoints. Most notably, a large group of respondents used their responses to set out their concerns about the impact of current hate crime legislation – and the proposed reforms – on freedom of expression, and freedom of religious expression. A subset of this group, which comprised around half of all individual respondents, only answered Questions 1 to 6 (consolidating and modernising hate crime legislation), and Questions 23 to 27 (new stirring up of hatred offences). These two groups of questions attracted more responses than any other groups of questions in the consultation (See paragraphs 2.9 and 2.10 below). Some individuals answered other questions in the consultation, but they often repeated points they made at Questions 1 to 6, and Questions 23 to 27.  In many cases the responses submitted by this group of respondents had a campaign-like quality in that they made the same points, and expressed broadly similar views, although they did not use identical language. 

2.8 Other smaller groups of respondents also focused on questions which aligned with their particular interests – for example, the options for introducing standalone offences or statutory aggravations relating to specific groups or characteristics (e.g. gender (Questions 7 to 10), age and vulnerability (Questions 11, 28 and 29), political entity (Question 18), or proposals for tackling sectarianism (Questions 12 to 17)).

Responses to individual questions

2.9 As noted above (paragraph 1.14), not all respondents answered all the questions in the consultation questionnaire. Questions 1 to 6 (covering Part 1 of the consultation) which focused on consolidation of hate crime laws, legal models and language, and Questions 23 to 27 (Part 3) which dealt with stirring up of hatred generally attracted more responses than other groups of questions. This was particularly notable amongst individuals – the questions relating to Part 2, 4 or 5 of the consultation were answered by less than half of all individuals who responded to the consultation. 

2.10 Across the consultation questionnaire, the closed questions tended to attract more responses than the open questions. The response to closed questions ranged from 37% for Question 34 on restorative justice and diversion to 91% for Question 23 on the possible introduction of new stirring up offences. For the open questions, responses ranged from 10% for Question 34, again, on restorative justice and diversion, to 75% for Question 1 on continuation of the aggravation model as the core method for prosecuting hate crimes in Scotland. (These figures exclude questions only directed at respondents who provided particular answers to previous questions.) (See Annex 3 for full details).



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