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

APPENDIX A: Schedule for interview with police officers

1. General

How long have you been in the police and what departments have you been in?

How are officers made aware of a new piece of legislation and resulting police powers?

Was this the same process for OBFTC Act? Proportionately speaking, how much of this training was dedicated to S6 specifically?

Do you know much about the work of the Football Coordination Unit?

2. The case

Can you tell me about the case you were involved with?

- how did it come to your attention
- did the individual have previous / was he known to police
- why was S6 the appropriate charge and not another
- how did they react to being charged under S6 i.e. were they aware that what they had done was an offence
- do you feel your colleagues have the same knowledge of S6 and would have used it in this case?
- if you're not sure about whether S6 is relevant who would you speak to, to check?
- have you heard of any of your colleagues using S6 in other instances
- have you seen any other incidents where S6 might have been applicable

3. Necessity?

The number of prosecutions under section 6 is low. Why do you think this might be?

When compared to the legislation that was already in place, what does S6 provide that the others didn't?

Have you received any feedback from the Procurator Fiscal regarding how the police are charging people?

4. Freedom of Speech?

Do you have any concerns that the legislation infringes, or has potential to do so, on Freedom of Speech?

Have you had any instances of people claiming to be offended and seeking to use the new powers to effectively punish opposition fans? i.e. has there been many frivolous attempts at making using S6?

5. Clarity?

Do you feel the wording of the legislation clear for your officers?

Has any of your colleagues mentioned to you their concerns to you regarding the issue of clarity?

6. Sentencing / punishment?

Do you think the sentencing available is fitting for the crime?

Conversely, with a maximum of 5yrs for a section 6 compared to a maximum of 7yrs for inciting racial hatred, is religiously aggravated offence seen as less serious?

Are there safeguards in place to prevent young persons from coming into the justice system unnecessarily, particularly in relation to cyber-bullying?

Does the sentencing take into consideration the context of the threat? i.e. is a letter more severe than a twitter post? The distinction between a 'real identity' and 'online identify'

Do you think it sent any sort of message across to the public about what is acceptable behaviour?

Do you think people are aware they can get caught for making threatening communications across social media?

7. Does it tackle the issue?

Does singling out of stirring up of "hatred on religious grounds" potentially send a message that this crime is more severe than others e.g. racist, homophobic?

Do you have any concerns regarding the exemption from the legislation of 'unrecorded speech'?

8. Resources?

If there was a significant increase in charges under section 6 would this require more police resources?

Will resources potentially be taken away from other aspects of policing?

Do you feel that officer have the ability and training to keep up with constantly changing social media environment?

In your opinion, has the lack of Old Firm games had any influence on the current situation regarding the use of the Act?

9. Final comments

Compared to other recent pieces of legislation

If you were to change any aspect of S6 that would make it more useful for to you and your officers what would it be?

Is there anything else you would like to add?


Email: Ben Cavanagh

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