Religious aggravated offending in Scotland 2016/17: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01338
Date received: 16 June 2017
Date responded: 4 July 2017

Information requested

Information in relation to your report on 'Religious Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2016/17' of the 293 charges where the victim was a police officer do you have the breakdown of the nature of the aggravation, i.e. Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity (General).


The report "Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2016-17" presents information on the religion that is the subject of offensive conduct (Table 7) and the victims of religious aggravations (Table 8). The analysis in this report is based on the religious aggravation charges that were reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in 2016-17. It is my understanding that your request is to look at the charges where the police were judged to be the victim and break this down by the religion that was the subject of offensive conduct.

On that basis, I have aimed to answer your request via the following table that I have created for this purpose, along with some explanatory text.

Religion Total number of charges No. of charges where the police where the main victim
Roman Catholicism 384 203
Protestantism 165 85
Islam 113 15
Judaism 23 8
------------------ ------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------

The number of religiously aggravated charges in which a police officer was judged to be a victim was 293 charges. As shown in the table provided above, the breakdown of the charges in which a police officer was a victim by the religion that was the subject of the offensive conduct is as follows: 203 charges were derogatory towards Roman Catholicism, 85 charges were derogatory towards Protestantism, 15 charges were derogatory towards Islam and 8 charges were derogatory towards Judaism. There were no police officers that were a victim of a religiously aggravated charge that was related to Christianity (general).

This totals 311 charges, which is 18 more than the 293 total charges in which police officers were victims. This is because more than one religion can be the subject of abuse for a single charge.

As noted in the report (p 7), the religious beliefs or affiliations of the accused are not formally recorded by the police as they are not relevant to the definition of the crime in law, and data has therefore not been collected on this. An assessment was made by analysts about the religion that appeared to be targeted, based on the police description of the incident and the details about what was said or done by the accused.

As noted in the report (p 19), information about the people targeted by the religious aggravation is not separately recorded by the police. For the purpose of the report, analysts made an assessment of the victims, based on the police description of the incident.The victim was defined as the main target for the religiously offensive part of the charge. This may have been a member of the public, police officer or other worker, or it may have been a member of the community (for example, if someone was singing a religiously offensive song that was not directed at anyone in particular).

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