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
1. The number of charges reported in 2014-15 will be published by COPFS in June 2015
2. Goulding and Cavanagh (2013) Charges reported under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act (2012) in 2012-13. The Scottish Government, available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0042/00425855.pdf and Skivington and McKenna (2014) Charges reported under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 in 2013-14. The Scottish Government, available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0045/00452585.pdf.
3. See: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/PubCriminalProceedings . Charges completed after the 2013-14 financial year are not included in this evaluation. Also, note that charge information from COPFS is based on charges reported by the police to COPFS in a financial year, and criminal proceedings information is from the Scottish Court Service and based on charges completed in court during a financial year.
4. Scottish Government, 2011 Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act; Policy Memorandum, p1.
5. During a Rangers and Celtic Scottish Cup replay played at Celtic Park in March of 2011 three Rangers players sent off, a number of on-pitch confrontations between players and coaching staff occurred. Numbers were released by Strathclyde police showing that 34 supporters were arrested inside the stadium (including 20 for alleged sectarian-motivated breaches of the peace) and claiming a total 187 'related arrests' were also made.
7. The definition of "religious group" is the same as that used in section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, which provides for a statutory aggravation that an offence was aggravated by religious prejudice.
8. Public Order Act 1986, as amended by Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 (and both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic have also legislated to criminalise inciting religious hatred).
9. Justice Committee 1st Report, 2011 (Session 4) Report on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2. Available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_JusticeCommittee/Reports/OFBTC_Bill_FINAL.pdf
10. Justice Committee report on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2; Response from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_JusticeCommittee/Inquiries/20111101_LA_response_to_report.pdf.
11. Lord Advocate's Guidelines on the offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. Available at http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_JusticeCommittee/Inquiries/20111101_LA_draft_guidance.pdf.
12. Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 Explanatory Notes. Available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2012/1/notes/data.pdf.
13. Lord Advocate's Guidelines on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, p9. Available at: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_JusticeCommittee/Inquiries/20111101_LA_draft_guidance.pdf
14. Data from March 2012 is included in this evaluation as the Act came into Force on 1 March 2012, which was the final month of the 2011-12 financial year.
15. Previously of Justice Analytical Services.
16. This evaluation is based on data taken from the 2 previous reports on the OBFTCA charges by the Scottish Government (Goulding and Cavanagh 2013, Skivington and McKenna 2014) where the total recorded number of section 6 charges between March 2012 and March of 2014 was 33. The analysis in the remainder of this evaluation are based on the total number of charges that were analysed and included in the past reports by the Scottish Government at the time the research was carried out. However, the number of section 6 charges for the period 2012-14 has since been updated on the COPFS database - this is a live system and numbers may vary from those previously published because of changes made during the course of the investigation and prosecution of a case. As such, 2 charges been added to the total charges for the period 2013-14 - the total section 6 charges is now 35.
17. The total number of charges is taken from the most up-to-date information recorded on the COPFS case management system. The research conducted last year was based on the latest information available at the time, and reported 268 charges in 2012-13 (65 charges were also made in the month the Act was in force in March preceding the 2012-13 financial year) (Goulding & Cavanagh 2013) and 203 charges reported in 2013-14 (Skivington & McKenna 2014).
18. Two of the charges that were classified for the purposes of this report as being support of terrorist groups or celebrating loss of life were also charged under section 74 with a religious aggravation.
19. Since these interviews were conducted guidance was published by the COPFS to prosecutors in December 2014 that recommended the wider use of section 6 by stating that it could considered in such non-football related cases as hate crime, stalking, domestic abuse, and public order offences. Available at: http://www.copfs.gov.uk/images/Documents/Prosecution_Policy_Guidance/Book_of_Regulations/Final%20version%2026%2011%2014.pdf
Email: Ben Cavanagh
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