Publication - Independent report

Independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland: summary

Published: 31 May 2018
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Equality and rights, Law and order

Summary document to accompany Lord Bracadale's final report.

Independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland: summary
Why Have Hate Crime Legislation?

Why Have Hate Crime Legislation?

Legislation Helps Recognise The Particular Impact And Harm Caused By Hate Crime

Harm to the victim

  • Harm can cause mental distress such as depression, anger, anxiety, trauma
  • Harm has a social impact as victims or groups change their behaviour to avoid further victimisation
  • May move home or job, avoid public spaces and become socially isolated

Harm to the group the victim belongs to

  • Hate crimes remind members that they are potential targets
  • Members can be fearful of those with the same identity as the perpetrator

Harm to wider society

  • Undermines society’s moral values
  • Less tolerant society
  • Hatred not recognised or challenged because it becomes the “norm”
  • May increase social unrest

Hate Crime Laws Provide A Symbolic Function And Tell Society That Such Behaviour Is Not Acceptable

  • It is important to send a message to victims, offenders and wider society that hate crime behaviour will not be tolerated and that justice will be done.
  • They show society’s disapproval of the deliberate targeting of an individual who is a member of a particular group that may be at an unfair disadvantage in society.
  • They enable people to recognise what a hate crime is; encourage reporting and increase awareness of how hate crime will be dealt with and how victims will be supported.
  • They provide an opportunity to educate people and encourages long term cultural change and acceptance of diverse communities.

The Benefits Of Identifying Hate Crime Behaviour Within The Criminal Justice System

  • Ensures offenders understand their actions are morally wrong: the hate crime element of an offence is recorded and may attract a more severe punishment.
  • Marks out repeat offenders: the hate crime element of the offence appears on the criminal record of the individual and may be taken into account if any future offences are committed.
  • We can produce statistical information and monitor trends.
  • We can remain vigilant about the scale of hate crimes being committed.