Publication - Research and analysis

Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2012-13

Published: 14 Jun 2013
Part of:
Research
ISBN:
9781782566427

Information about religious aggravations charges reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) by the police in 2012-13.

21 page PDF

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21 page PDF

387.1 kB

Contents
Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2012-13
3. Findings

21 page PDF

387.1 kB

3. Findings

Number of charges

3.1 There were 687 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2012-13. This is a 24% decrease since 2011-12 when there were 901 charges reported to COPFS. It represents a return to the level of charges reported between 2007 and 2010, when there were between 600 and 700 charges in each financial year, which preceeded a notable increase in 2011-12. Table 1 below shows a breakdown of the charges reported to COPFS between 2007 and 2013.

Table 1: Charges reported to COPFS between 2007 and 2013

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
Number of Charges 609 669 632 696 901 687

3.2 COPFS statistics are based on a live database and therefore the figures reported do not exactly match those previously published in COPFS and Scottish Government reports. The database may change for example if the Procurator Fiscal amends a charge; the database will only hold details of the amended charge.

3.3 Previous Scottish Government analysis of religious aggravations for 2011-12 reported 876 charges in that financial year and 693 in 2010-11. These numbers were based on information recorded on the COPFS database at that time.

3.4 The comparisons on the remainder of this report are based on the total number of charges that were analysed and included in the past reports for 2010-11 and 2011-12 by the Scottish Government at the time that research was carried out.

Sex/age of the accused

3.5 For 2012-13, 91% of the charges related to male accused, and 48.6% of all accused were between the ages of 16 and 30. Table 2 shows the age breakdown of the accused for each of the 687 religious aggravation charges.

Table 2: Age breakdown of accused

Age group 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Under 16 24 3.5 5 0.6 12 1.7
16-20 143 20.6 178 20.3 105 15.3
21-30 257 37.1 331 37.8 229 33.3
31-40 120 17.3 184 21.0 173 25.2
41-50 98 14.1 118 13.5 116 16.9
51-60 32 4.6 41 4.7 37 5.4
Over 60 17 2.5 18 2.1 15 2.2
Unknown 2 0.3 1 0.1 0 0.0
Total 693 100 876 100 687 100.0

Location of offences

3.6 Table 3 shows the local authority areas where charges occurred. Consistent with 2011-12 the majority of charges took place in the west of Scotland, and 40.9% occurred in Glasgow.

3.7 As well as Glasgow there were also relatively higher numbers in North Lanarkshire and Falkirk. This higher prevalence is evident also when controlling for population density. However, a slight reduction was found in South Lanarkshire since 2011-12 from 4.8% to 4.1%. In Edinburgh there was also a decrease from 48 charges (5.5%) in 2011-12 to 32 charges (4.7%) in 2012-13. Increases in charges from 2011-12 were found in North Lanarkshire from 9.6% to 13.8% and in Falkirk from 4.7% to 7.0%. In contrast to 2011-12 there were 3 local authority areas were no charges occurred.

3.8 One charge took place at a domestic Scottish football fixture in England. This charge was a religious aggravation added to a charge under section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour etc Act which, unlike existing law such as breach of the peace, applies to incidents taking place around regulated football matches outside Scotland.

Table 3: Local authority area where charges occurred in 2012-137

Local authority area 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % No of charges per 100,000 population Number of charges % No of charges per 100,000 population Number of charges % No of charges per 100,000 population
Aberdeen City 9 1.3 4 16 1.8 7 7 1.0 3
Aberdeenshire 0 0 0 5 0.6 2 6 0.9 2
Angus 1 0.1 1 4 0.5 4 0 0.0 0
Argyll & Bute 7 1 8 21 2.4 23 9 1.3 10
Clackmannanshire 2 0.3 4 12 1.4 24 8 1.2 16
Dumfries & Galloway 5 0.7 3 19 2.2 13 13 1.9 9
Dundee City 4 0.6 3 9 1.0 6 5 0.7 3
East Ayrshire 2 0.3 2 20 2.3 17 11 1.6 9
East Dunbartonshire 1 0.1 1 2 0.2 2 8 1.2 8
East Lothian 0 0 0 2 0.2 2 7 1.0 7
East Renfrewshire 5 0.7 6 5 0.6 6 10 1.5 11
Edinburgh City 22 3.2 5 48 5.5 10 32 4.7 6
Western Isles 0 0 0 1 0.1 4 2 0.3 8
Falkirk 30 4.3 20 41 4.7 27 48 7.0 31
Fife 9 1.3 2 18 2.1 5 11 1.6 3
Glasgow City 356 51.4 60 353 40.3 59 281 40.9 47
Highland 5 0.7 2 9 1.0 4 2 0.3 1
Inverclyde 12 1.7 15 14 1.6 18 3 0.4 4
Midlothian 2 0.3 2 2 0.2 2 2 0.3 2
Moray 1 0.1 1 4 0.5 5 4 0.6 5
North Ayrshire 16 2.3 12 23 2.6 17 8 1.2 6
North Lanarkshire 78 11.3 24 84 9.6 26 95 13.8 29
Orkney Islands 0 0 0 1 0.1 5 2 0.3 10
Perth & Kinross 3 0.4 2 9 1.0 6 10 1.5 7
Renfrewshire 16 2.3 9 33 3.8 19 11 1.6 6
Scottish Borders 7 1 6 1 0.1 1 0 0.0 0
Shetland Islands 0 0 0 1 0.1 4 0 0.0 0
South Ayrshire 10 1.4 9 8 0.9 7 3 0.4 3
South Lanarkshire 33 4.8 11 42 4.8 13 28 4.1 9
Stirling 10 1.4 11 22 2.5 24 21 3.1 23
West Dunbartonshire 12 1.7 13 27 3.1 30 14 2.0 15
West Lothian 35 5.1 20 10 1.1 6 24 3.5 14
Outside Scotland (Northumberland, England) 0 0.0 0 0 0.0 0 1 0.1
Unknown 10 1.1 1 0.1
Total 693 100.0 13.2 876 100.0 16.7 687 100.0 13.1

Locus of charges

3.9 Similar proportions were found in the locus of charges when compared with 2010-11 and 2011-12. Just over a fifth (23.1%) of all charges occurred in a police car/station and 22.3% took place in a 'main street'8 in a town or city centre.

3.10 There were also similar proportions found in residential areas compared with 2011-12 from 18.5% to 18.3%. There is a decrease in charges taking place at football stadiums from 67 charges in 2011-12 to 27 in 2012-13, although this could be explained by the use of the Offensive Behaviour at Football etc Act to deal with football-related religious hatred, as discussed earlier.

3.11 Fewer charges also occurred on public transport or at a public transport station from 6.8% in 2011-12 to 3.9% in 2012-13. Thirty charges relating to online social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online forums, were recorded for 2012-13 - this represents an increase from previous years.

Table 4: Locus of offences9

Locus of Offence 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Police Car/Station 134 19.3 199 22.7 159 23.1
Main Street 145 20.9 175 20.0 153 22.3
Residential Area 82 11.8 162 18.5 126 18.3
Domestic Dwelling 66 9.5 97 11.1 70 10.2
Football Stadium 90 12.9 67 7.6 27 3.9
Public Transport 91 13.1 60 6.8 27 3.9
Pub/Club 37 5.3 33 3.8 32 4.7
Hospital 12 1.7 23 2.6 15 2.2
Online Social Media * * * * 30 4.4
Other 46 6.6 71 8.1 70 10.2

Note: charges do not add up to the total number reported because an incident may fall into more than one locus type, for example a public transport station outside a football stadium.

* In 2010-11 and 2011-12 the number of charges relating to online social media were so low they were included in the domestic dwelling figures.

Timing of charges

3.12 Chart 1 outlines the peak days of week and times of day for charges taking place. On weekdays there are typically spikes in offending between 4pm-8pm. There are larger spikes at the weekend and particularly on Saturdays between 12pm and 12am.

Chart 1: Day of Week and Time of Day

Chart 1: Day of Week and Time of Day

Football and marches/parades

3.13 The analysis included looking at the number of religious aggravation charges which were related in some way to football or marches and parades, for example if the incident took place at a football match/screening or a march or parade, or if the police noted the relevance of a football association within the description of the incident10 . Again, this finding is based on the information recorded in police reports and may under-report the links to football and marches/parades if the police did not note this.

Table 5: Charges linked to football and marches/parades

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Football 231 33.3 267 30.5 109 15.9
Marches/Parades 32 4.6 18 2.1 85 12.4

3.14 Under section 74, there were 109 charges linked to football in 2012-13, (15.9% of the total). This is a decrease since 2011-12 when there were 267 charges. New legislation was introduced on 1 March 2012; the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 201211 that criminalises offensive behaviour related to football, including offensive singing or chanting, where it is likely to incite public disorder. Some of the offences which might before this time have been dealt with under section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, might from this date have been dealt with under the new legislation. The charges under the 2012 Act included 75 in relation to religious hatred related to football in 2012-13, so there were in total 184 football-related charges regarding religious prejudice, when both pieces of legislation are considered.

3.15 Within the 109 football-related charges, 27 occurred at a football stadium. The other football-related charges took place in settings such as public transport, main streets in town and city centres and residential areas.

3.16 As shown in table 6, the number of incidents that took place at all stadiums have reduced in the last 12 months, although the proportion occurring at Ibrox and Tynecastle have increased. Of the 27 charges which happened at football stadiums, 10 occurred at Ibrox (37.0%), 8 at Tynecastle (29.6%) and only 1 charge (3.7%) took place at Celtic Park compared with 15 charges (22.4) in 2011-12.

3.17 This information relates only to the stadium where the incident took place and makes no inference to the club affiliations of the victims or the accused, or whether these were 'home' or 'away' supporters.

Table 6: Charges at football stadiums

Football Stadium 2011-12 2012-13
Number of Charges % Number of charges %
Celtic Park 15 22.4 1 3.7
Ibrox Stadium 15 22.4 10 37.0
Tynecastle Stadium 9 13.4 8 29.6
Hampden Park 4 6.0 1 3.7
East End Park 4 6.0 0 0.0
Other 20 29.9 7 25.9
Total 67 100.0 27 100.0

3.18 Also, as shown in table 5 there was an increase in the number of charges relating to marches/parades, from 2.1% (18 charges) in 2011-12 to 12.4% (85 charges) in 2012-13. This increase can in part be explained by one march which took place in Glasgow, in which there were 57 charges in one incident where Islam was the target of abuse.

Religious beliefs/affiliations that were targeted

3.19 Information about the nature of the religiously offensive conduct which related to the aggravation was taken from the police report of the incident. There is no separate section within police reports for the police to state which religious belief in their view was targeted and an assessment was made by the researchers involved in this work on the religion which appeared to be targeted based on a description of the incident and the details about what was said or done by the accused. The religious beliefs or affiliations of the accused or the victims of the offence are not formally recorded by the police as they are not relevant to the definition of the crime in the law. This report does not therefore present information about the religious beliefs or affiliations of the people targeted by the offensive conduct.

3.20 There has been a decrease in the number of charges where conduct was derogatory towards Roman Catholicism from 509 charges in 2011-12 to 388 charges in 2012-13, the proportions are however similar 58.1% in 2011-12 and 56.5% in 2012-13. In charges which were derogatory toward Protestantism there has been a reduction from 353 in 2011-12 (40.3%) to 199 in 2012-13 (29.0%).

3.21 There has been an increase in charges where conduct was derogatory towards Islam, from 19 charges (2.2% of the total) in 2011-12 to 80 charges (11.6% of the total) in 2012-13. This can be explained by one incident at a march in Glasgow, in which there were 57 anti-Islam charges. Charges for conduct derogatory towards Judaism also increased from 14 charges (1.6% of the total) in 2011-12 to 27 charges (3.9% of the total) in 2012-13.

Table 7: Religious affiliation that was the subject of offensive conduct in 2012-13

Religion Targeted 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Roman Catholicism 400 57.7 509 58.1 388 56.5
Protestantism 253 36.5 353 40.3 199 29.0
Islam 15 2.1 19 2.2 80 11.6
Judaism 16 2.3 14 1.6 27 3.9
Christianity (General) 4 0.6 3 0.3 5 0.7
Unknown 8 1.2 2 0.2 4 0.6
Other 0 0 0 0 3 0.4

Note: charges do not add up to the total number reported as some charges related to conduct which targeted more than one religious group

Victims

3.22 Information about the people targeted by the religious aggravation is not separately recorded in the police report and for the purpose of this analysis the researchers 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 offence. This may have been a member of the public, police officer or worker or it may have been the general community, for example if someone was singing a religiously offensive song that was not directed at anyone in particular. Each charge may have included multiple victim 'types'.

3.23 The police were the most common target, however there has been a decrease from 449 charges in 2011-12 to 273 in 2012-13 (51.3% to 39.7%). These charges often related to incidents where the police had arrested the accused for another offence and were then abused in religiously offensive terms afterwards. As was found in 2011-12 the general community were targeted in around a third of the charges. There was a decrease in charges relating to members of the public from 271 charges in 2011-12 to 172 charges in 2012-13 (30.9% to 25.0%) . There was also a decrease in charges where workers were the victims from 117 charges in 2011-12 to 80 charges in 2012-13 (13.4% to 11.6%). The 'workers' category includes hospital staff, security staff, taxi drivers and religious officials12 .The majority of the victims were police officers, the general community and workers. This suggests that for the majority of charges it is unlikely the accused knew the religious affiliation/belief of the victim at the time of incident and that the attacks were more arbitrary in nature.

Table 8: Victims of religious aggravation

Victim 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Police officer/s 288 41.5 449 51.3 273 39.7
Community 229 33.0 259 29.6 231 33.6
Member of the public 157 22.6 271 30.9 172 25.0
Worker/s 73 10.5 117 13.4 80 11.6

Note: charges do not add up to the total number reported because some charges related to behaviour which targeted more than one victim or victim type.

Alcohol and drug related charges

3.24 The accused was described by the police as being under the influence of alcohol in 333 charges (48.5% of the total) in 2012-13, a decrease from 498 charges (56.8% of the total) 2011-12. This finding is based on the information recorded in police reports and may under-report the alcohol links to the offending if there were charges where the police did not note that the accused had been drinking. It was also not possible to quantify the amount of alcohol consumed in any given case. Drugs related charges, referred to incidents where the police reported the accused as possessing drugs or suspected they had taken drugs before the offence, these were similar for 2012-13 when there were 60 charges ( 8.7%) and 2011-12 when there were 75 charges (8.6%).

Table 9: Alcohol and drugs related charges

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Drink 424 61.1 498 56.8 333 48.5
Drugs 41 5.9 75 8.6 60 8.7

Note: the rows show the number and proportion of drink/drugs in all charges. Some charges may have included both drink and drugs.

Main charges

3.25 Table 10 shows a breakdown of the main charges that aggravations were added to. It shows a trend of decreasing numbers of religious aggravations of the common law offence of 'breach of the peace', matched by an increase in those for the statutory offence of 'threatening or abusive behaviour' (under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010). This year also sees the first religious aggravations of the charges of 'offensive behaviour at regulated football matches' and 'threatening communications' (under section 1 and 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which came into force on 1 March 2012).

Table 10: Main charges that aggravations were added to

Main Charge 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Breach of the Peace 503 72.5 365 41.7 134 19.5
Threatening or Abusive Behaviour 99 14.2 414 47.3 385 56.0
Assault 39 5.6 35 4.0 26 3.8
Offensive Behaviour at Football N/A N/A N/A N/A 35 5.1
Threatening Communications N/A N/A N/A N/A 4 0.6
Act in Racially Aggravated Manner N/A N/A N/A N/A 61 8.9
Other 52 7.5 62 7.1 42 6.1
Total 693 100 876 100 687 100.0

Note: percentages do not add to 100 because of rounding

Note: These main charges refer to the main charges as initially cited, they may have changed during the court proceedings.

Note: Although the 35 'Offensive behaviour at football' charges had religious aggravations added, 31 of these charges were analysed by the researchers as being religious and 4 of them were racial or related to terrorism.

Note: The charge 'Act in a Racially Aggravated Manner' comes under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and is intrinsically racial, however a religious aggravation may be added where appropriate.

3.26 Table 11 shows a breakdown of the main charges by religion. There is a similar proportional spread in the charges for breach of the peace and threatening or abusive behaviour given for offences against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.

Table 11: A breakdown of main charges by religion

Main Charge Roman Catholicism Protestantism Islam Judaism Christianity (General)
Charges % Charges % Charges % Charges % Charges %
Breach of the Peace 78 20.1 46 23.1 4 5.0 12 44.4 0 0.0
Threatening or Abusive Behaviour 234 60.3 120 60.3 21 26.3 10 37.0 3 60.0
Assault 12 3.1 9 4.5 2 2.5 3 11.1 0 0.0
Offensive Behaviour at Football 28 7.2 8 4.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0
Threatening Communications 3 0.8 1 0.5 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0
Act in Racially Aggravated Manner 6 1.5 2 1.0 52 65.0 1 3.7 0 0.0
Other 27 7.0 13 6.5 1 1.3 1 3.7 2 40.0
Total 388 100.0 199 100.0 80 100.0 27 100.0 5 100.0

Note: The charge 'Act in a Racially Aggravated Manner' comes under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 and is intrinsically racial, however a religious aggravation may be added where appropriate.

Court proceedings

3.27 As explained in COPFS Hate Crime in Scotland 2012-13, court proceedings were commenced in 81% of charges with a religious aggravation, a slightly lower proportion than in previous years when proceedings were commenced in around 87% of charges.

3.28 Some court cases are ongoing and information from the COPFS case management database shows that court proceedings had been concluded for 313 of these main charges. Of this number 262 (84%) charges resulted in convictions. As shown in table 12 the most common disposal recorded was a monetary penalty (39.7%) a decrease from 43.0% in 2011-12. A community penalty13 was given for 61 charges (23.3%) and custody for 60 charges (22.9%). Other14 disposals were recorded for the remaining 37 charges (14.1%).

Table 12: Recorded disposals

Disposal 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Monetary Penalty 163 41.8 217 43.0 104 39.7
Community Penalty 99 25.4 110 21.8 61 23.3
Custody 70 17.9 103 20.4 60 22.9
Other 58 14.9 75 14.9 37 14.1
Total 390 100.0 505 100.0 262 100.0

Contact

Email: Ben Cavanagh