An evaluation of Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012

An Evaluation of the implementation and impact of section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012

6. Conclusions

  • The intention of the legislation was to be a deterrent to people who may be likely to post threats on social media and in other places, but also to be a means of more effectively dealing with threating communications made via social media and other types of threats.
  • Section 6 charges are comparatively low in overall numbers (33), when compared to section 1 of the OBFTCA (538).
  • These low numbers indicate that section 6 is not a widely use charge by justice system practitioners. This may be because section 6 offences are not occurring, or not being identified and reported. Because of a lack of data measuring the prevalence of these types of threats in society, generally it is difficult to assess the extent or proportion of charges that have occurred which could potentially have been effectively dealt with through section 6.
  • Some justice system practitioners were more positive regarding its clarity and its suitability for certain offences, and it seems possible that there may be other opportunities for the legislation to be applied in appropriate circumstances in the future, provided practitioners feel confident and knowledgeable about it.
  • There is mixed evidence from this evaluation that football fans - one of the Act's potential main target groups - believed there to have been a reduction in threatening communications since the Act was introduced with 41% saying there had been no change in the frequency of offensive comments. A quarter of respondents (25%) said these comments had become more frequent and a similar proportion (24%) said they had become less frequent.
  • However, even though there were a low number of charges, there were less than favourable responses amongst survey respondents with regards to how the Act had been used to achieve this effect with many believing it had been used disproportionately and/or was targeting behaviour that was not relevant.


Email: Ben Cavanagh

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