Hate crime: availability of information recorded by the police in Scotland

Update on work by our statisticians and Police Scotland to review the availability of information on hate crime.

Executive summary

Purpose of report

This progress report provides an update on work by Scottish Government statisticians and Police Scotland to review the availability of information on hate crime recorded by the police in Scotland.

Across Scotland, hate crimes are recorded by the police on a system known as the Interim Vulnerable Persons Database (IVPD). The IVPD is an incident-based database which was introduced in 2013, and became a national system in 2014. Police Scotland use the IVPD to record information about individuals who are, or are perceived to be, experiencing some form of adversity and/or situational vulnerability which may impact on their current or future wellbeing.

The IVPD's primary function is to support the day-to-day operational procedures of Police Scotland. However, as it is the only system in Scotland that holds information on all hate-related activity faced by the police - a review was commenced in 2016 to investigate what associated analysis could be produced on the scale and nature of police recorded hate crime in Scotland.

Interim findings and summary information on hate crime

At this stage, our investigations suggest that the IVPD does adequately reflect the total volume of hate crime that comes to the attention of Police Scotland. Therefore it can be used to produce summary information that will provide a good indication of the scale of police recorded hate crime in Scotland. This report includes that information for each of the five hate crime characteristics (race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender identity).

The police recorded 6,736 hate crimes in 2017-18. Two-thirds (67%) of those crimes included a race aggravator, 16% a sexual orientation aggravator, 7% a religion aggravator, 4% a disability aggravator and 1% a transgender identity aggravator. The remaining 5% had multiple hate aggravators.

The most frequently recorded hate crimes in 2017-18 were threatening or abusive behaviour (45% of all hate crimes recorded), racially aggravated conduct (23%), common assault (13%) and offences relating to the 2003 Communications Act (5%).

Since 2014-15, the number of hate crimes recorded by the police in Scotland has fluctuated between 6,600 and 7,000 (to the nearest 100).

Further information on the recording of hate crime

Several of the existing sources of data on hate crime in Scotland focus on those cases which have been reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). As the IVPD can be used to produce summary information on the total volume of hate crime dealt with by the police (including those crimes that were not reported to COPFS) it has widened the available evidence base on hate crime in Scotland.

Beyond the indicative analysis presented in this report, the IVPD includes further information on the nature of each hate crime the police deal with (for example the characteristics of the people involved). This also extends to incidents that may have been hate-related, but did not constitute a criminal offence.

Police Scotland have been reviewing the process used by officers to enter this information into the database. This is with the aim of ensuring that should more detailed analysis on the nature of hate crime be regularly drawn from the IVPD, users can be assured of its quality.

As part of this work Police Scotland have created a training programme for staff across the organisation to become Hate Crime Champions (HCCs). This is being done to heighten awareness of hate crime and help address the impact it has on Scotland's communities. HCCs will also ensure that the correct recording methods are used within the IVPD, increasing the value of the associated information for stakeholders.

With the provision of more detailed analysis on the characteristics of police recorded hate crime, the contribution of the IVPD could be even higher in future. Scottish Government statisticians will continue to engage with Police Scotland as they take this work forward, and will inform users through the SCOTSTAT network[1] of any new developments regarding the availability of hate crime information.

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