Publication - Research and analysis

Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2013-14

Published: 13 Jun 2014
ISBN:
9781784125653

Analysis of charges reported under the act to provide information about the nature of the religiously aggravated offending charges, the accused and the victims of incidents.

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22 page PDF

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Contents
Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2013-14
3. FINDINGS

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603.1 kB

3. FINDINGS

Number of charges

3.1 There were 587 charges with a religious aggravation reported in 2013-14. This is a 15% decrease since 2012-13 when there were 689 charges reported to COPFS. This is also the lowest level of religiously aggravated charges reported to COPFS since 2004-05 when 479 charges were reported shortly after the legislation was introduced. Table 1 below shows a breakdown of the charges reported to COPFS between 2007 and 2014.

Table 1: Charges reported to COPFS between 2007 and 2014

2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014
Number of charges 609 668 633 694 898 689 587

3.2 These trends may have been influenced in the last two years by the separate use of charges under section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. This legislation, which came into force on 1 March 2012, criminalises religious hatred that is connected to football and may be used instead of section 74 legislation (religiously aggravated charges) in certain circumstances. There were 48 additional 'religious' charges[13] under this legislation during 2013-14. When all legislation is considered (i.e. when section 74 charges are added to the section 1 and 6, offensive behaviour at football and threatening communications, charges) there is a total of 635 charges relating to religious prejudice in Scotland in 2013-14 (a 17% decrease on the corresponding figure in 2012-13 when there were 764 'religion' charges, and a 29% decrease since 2011-12 when there were 898 religious charges under section 74).

3.3 COPFS statistics are based on a live database and therefore the figures reported in Table 1 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. The comparisons in 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, 2011-12, and 2012-13 by the Scottish Government at the time that research was carried out.

3.4 Before providing further details of these charges, it is worth highlighting that these charges do not relate to 587 separate incidents. Many of the incidents which took place involved more than one accused, and/or more than one breach of the law, and will therefore have resulted in more than one charge. The bulk of the analysis in this report relates to 'charges' rather than to separate incidents that were reported by the police to COPFS.

Sex and age of the accused

3.5 For 2013-14, 90% of the charges related to male accused. Table 2 shows the age breakdown of the accused for each of the 587 religious aggravation charges. The proportion of charges for accused aged between 16 and 30 has reduced from 58% in 2011-12, to 48% in 2012-13 and 47% in 2013-14.

Table 2: Age breakdown of the accused

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Age Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
<16 24 4 5 0.6 12 2 0 0
16-20 143 21 178 20 105 15 83 14
21-30 257 37 331 38 229 33 191 33
31-40 120 17 184 21 173 25 133 23
41-50 98 14 118 14 116 17 114 19
51-60 32 5 41 5 37 5 57 10
>60 17 3 18 2 15 2 9 2
Unknown 2 0.3 1 0.1 0 0 0 0
Total 693 100 876 100 687 100 587 100
Note: Percentages may not add to 100 because of rounding. Location of charges

3.6 Table 3 shows the local authority areas where charges occurred. There remains a strong focus of charges in Glasgow, which accounted for 35% of charges. This is however a decrease from 2012-13, when Glasgow accounted for 41% of all charges. The number of charges per 100,000 people has also reduced in Glasgow from 60 in 2011-12, to 47 in 2012-13 and to 35 in 2013- 14.

3.7 Apart from the concentration in Glasgow, there were relatively high numbers in North Lanarkshire, Falkirk and Edinburgh City. This higher prevalence is also evident when controlling for population density. The remaining charges were spread throughout local authorities, with most of them having between 5-20 charges each year.

3.8 There were two local authorities where no charges occurred (Eilean Siar/Western Isles and Orkney Islands).

Table 3: Local authority- area where the charges occurred 2011-2014[14]

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Local authority area No. of char-ges % Char-ges per 100,000 pop. No. of char-ges % Char-ges per 100,000 pop. No. of char-ges % Char-ges per 100,000 pop. No. of char-ges % Char-ges per 100,000 pop.
Aberdeen City 9 1 4 16 2 7 7 1 3 7 1 3
Aberdeenshire 0 0 0 5 1 2 6 1 2 1 0.2 0.4
Angus 1 0.1 1 4 1 4 0 0 0 5 1 4
Argyll & Bute 7 1 8 21 2 24 9 1 10 6 1 7
Clackmannanshire 2 0.3 4 12 1 24 8 1 16 4 1 8
Dumfries & Galloway 5 1 3 19 2 13 13 2 9 11 2 7
Dundee City 4 1 3 9 1 6 5 1 3 7 1 5
East Ayrshire 2 0.3 2 20 2 17 11 2 9 9 2 7
East Dunbartonshire 1 1 1 2 0.2 2 8 1 8 7 1 7
East Lothian 0 0 0 2 0.2 2 7 1 7 6 1 6
East Renfrewshire 5 1 6 5 1 6 10 2 11 4 1 4
Edinburgh City 22 3 5 48 6 10 32 5 6 36 6 8
Western Isles 0 0 0 1 0.1 4 2 0.3 7 0 0 0
Falkirk 30 4 20 41 5 27 48 7 31 41 7 26
Fife 9 1 2 18 2 5 11 2 3 12 2 4
Glasgow City 356 51 60 353 40 60 281 41 47 208 35 35
Highland 5 1 2 9 1 4 2 0.3 1 9 2 4
Inverclyde 12 2 15 14 2 18 3 0.4 4 7 1 9
Midlothian 2 0.3 2 2 0.2 3 2 0.3 2 4 1 5
Moray 1 0.1 1 4 1 5 4 1 4 3 1 3
North Ayrshire 16 2 12 23 3 17 8 1 6 14 2 10
North Lanarkshire 78 11 24 84 10 26 95 14 28 66 11 20
Orkney Islands 0 0 0 1 1 5 2 0.3 10 0 0 0
Perth & Kinross 3 0.4 2 9 1 6 10 2 7 6 1 4
Renfrewshire 16 2 9 33 4 20 11 2 6 14 2 8
Scottish Borders 7 1 6 1 0.1 1 0 0 0 3 1 3
Shetland Islands 0 0 0 1 0.1 5 0 0 0 4 1 17
South Ayrshire 10 1 9 8 1 7 3 0.4 3 20 3 18
South Lanarkshire 33 5 11 42 5 14 28 4 9 21 4 7
Stirling 10 1 11 22 3 25 21 3 23 24 4 26
West Dunbartonshire 12 2 13 27 3 30 14 2 16 12 2 13
West Lothian 35 5 20 10 1 6 24 4 14 16 3 9
Outside Scotland 0 0 13 0 0 0 0 1 0.1 0 0 0
Unknown 0 0 0 10 1 - 1 0.1 - 2 0.3 -
Total 693 100 13 876 100.0 17 687 100.0 13 587 100.0 11
Locus of charges

3.9 As Table 4 shows, 177 charges (30%) took place in a 'main street'[15] in a town or city centre. Just under a fifth (19%) of all charges occurred in a police car/station; a 17% decrease from 2012-13. The proportion of charges taking place in domestic dwellings increased from 70 (10%) to 99 (17%).

3.10 There was a decrease in the proportion of charges that took place in residential areas compared with 2012-13: from 126 (18%) to 85 (15%). There was also a decrease in the number of charges which took place at football stadiums: from 27 charges (4%) in 2012-13 to 16 (3%) in 2013-14. A lower proportion of charges also occurred on public transport or at a public transport station from 5% in 2012-13 to 3% in 2013-14.

3.11 Seventeen charges related to online social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online forums, were recorded in 2013-14. This represents a decrease from 30 charges reported in 2012-13.

Table 4: Locus of charges

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Locus Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Police car/station 134 19 199 23 159 23 113 19
Main street 145 21 175 20 153 22 177 30
Residential area 82 12 162 19 126 18 85 15
Domestic dwelling 66 10 97 11 70 10 99 17
Football stadium 90 13 67 8 27 4 16 3
Public transport 91 13 60 7 27 5 16 3
Pub/club 37 5 33 4 32 6 24 4
Hospital/ambulance 12 2 23 3 15 2 15 3
Social media - - - - 30 4 17 3
Place of Worship - - - - 6 2 7 1
Other 46 7 71 8 64 9 18 3

Note 1: Charges do not always 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.

Note 2: In 2010-11 and 2011-12 the number of charges relating to online social media were included in the domestic dwelling figures.

Note 3: Before 2012-13 the locus 'place of worship' was included in 'other'. Comparisons of this category should therefore be made with caution.

Timing of charges

3.12 Chart 1 outlines the peak days of the week and times of the day that incidents took place. There were typically spikes in religiously aggravated offending between 16:00 and 20:00 on weekdays. There were larger spikes at weekends, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays between 20:00 and 00:00.

Chart 1: Day of Week and Time of Day

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Football, marches and parades

3.13 The analysis included looking at the number of religious aggravation charges that were related in some way to football or marches/parades. This included, for example, if the incident took place at a football match or screening, or at a march or parade, or if the police noted the relevance of a football association within the description of the incident[16]. 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 2013-14
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Football 231 33 267 31 109 16 96 16
Marches/ parades 32 5 18 2 85 12 34 6

3.14 Under section 74, there were 96 charges linked to football in 2013-14 (16% of the total). This is a decrease since 2012-13 when there were 109 charges, however it is a similar proportion of charges that were linked to football.

3.15 Within the 96 football-related charges under section 74, 16 occurred at a football stadium[17]. The other football-related charges took place in settings such as public transport, domestic dwellings, main streets in town and city centres, on social media, and in residential areas.

3.16 The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 was introduced on 1 March 2012. The Act criminalises offensive behaviour related to football, including offensive singing or chanting, where it is likely to incite public disorder. Some of the charges that might, before this time, have been dealt with under section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, may from this date have been dealt with under the new legislation.

3.17 Under this legislation there were an extra 48 religious charges that were related to football in 2013-14. In total, there were 144 football-related charges reported to COPFS that contained religious prejudice, when both section 74 (religious aggravation charges) and the relevant parts of the offensive behaviour at football legislation are considered.

3.18 This is a 22% decrease in the comparable figure since 2012-13 when there were 184 football-related charges containing religious prejudice.

3.19 Also, as shown in table 5, there was a decrease in the proportion of charges relating to marches and parades from 12% (85 charges) in 2012-13 to 6% (34 charges) in 2013-14. This figure was reduced from 2012-13 when a single event at an anti-Islamic demonstration in Glasgow had 57 charges associated with it.

Religious beliefs/affiliations that were targeted

3.20 Information about the nature of the religiously offensive conduct was taken from the police report of the incident. There is no separate section within police reports that states which religious belief, in the reporting police officer's view, was targeted. An assessment was made by the researchers involved in this work 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. The religious beliefs or affiliations of the accused or the victims of the incident 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 definitive information about the religious beliefs or affiliations of the people targeted by the offensive conduct.

3.21 Table 6 below shows there was a 5% decrease in the number of charges where conduct was derogatory towards Roman Catholicism: from 388 charges in 2012-13 (57% of the total) to 367 charges in 2013-14 (63% of the total). There was a 15% decrease in the number of charges with conduct derogatory towards Protestantism, from 199 in 2012-13 (29% of the total) to 169 in 2013-14 (29% of the total).

3.22 There was a decrease in the number of charges where conduct was derogatory towards Islam, from 80 charges[18] (12% of the total) in 2012-13 to 48 charges (8% of the total) in 2013-14. Charges for conduct derogatory towards Judaism also decreased from 27 charges (4% of the total) in 2012-13 to 9 charges (2% of the total) in 2013-14.

Table 6: Religious affiliation that was the subject of offensive conduct

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Religion targeted No. of char-ges % of total char-ges No. of char-ges % of total char-ges No. of char-ges % of total char-ges No. of char-ges % of total char-ges
Roman Catholicism 400 58 509 58 388 57 367 63
Protestantism 253 37 353 40 199 29 169 29
Islam 15 2 19 2 80 12 48 8
Judaism 16 2 14 1 27 4 9 2
Christianity (general) 4 1 3 0.3 5 1 4 1
Unknown 8 1 2 0.2 4 1 5 1
Other 0 0 0 0 3 0.4 2 0.3

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

Victims

3.23 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 charge. This may have been a member of the public, police officer or other 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'.

3.24 As shown in Table 7, the police were again the most common target of religiously-aggravated offending in 2013-14. Since 2012-13, there has been an increase from 273 charges where police were victims to 282 in 2013-14 (a proportional rise from 40% to 48%). These charges often relate to incidents where the police arrested the accused for a separate charge (which may not have involved religious prejudice) and were then abused in religiously offensive terms afterwards. The general community (e.g. people who happened to be in the vicinity, but who were not directly targeted by the accused) were victims in around a quarter of the charges. There was a decrease in the number (though not the proportion) of charges relating to members of the public from 172 charges in 2012-13 to 161 charges in 2013- 14 (25% to 27%). There was also a decrease in charges where workers were the victims: from 80 charges in 2012-13 to 65 charges in 2013-14 (12% to 11%). The 'workers' category includes hospital staff, security staff, taxi drivers, and religious officials[19]. Seventy-three percent of the charges included victims that 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 arbitrary in nature.

Table 7: Victims of religious aggravation

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Victim Number of charges % of charges Number of charges % of charges Number of charges % of charges Number of charges % of charges
Police 288 42 449 51 273 40 282 48
Community 229 33 259 30 231 34 155 26
Member of public 157 23 271 31 172 25 161 27
Worker(s) 73 11 117 13 80 12 65 11

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

Alcohol and drug-related charges

3.25 Table 8 shows that the accused was described by the police as being under the influence of alcohol in 345 charges (59% of the total) in 2013-14, an increase from 333 charges (49% of the total) in 2012-13. This finding is based on the information recorded in police reports, therefore 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.

3.26 Drug-related charges refer to incidents where the police reported the accused as possessing drugs or suspected they had taken drugs before the charge. In 2013-14 these accounted for 28 charges (5%), a decrease from 2012-13 when there were 60 charges (9%) related to drugs.

Table 8: Alcohol and drug-related charges

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Alcohol 424 61 498 57 333 49 345 59
Drugs 41 6 75 9 60 9 28 5

Note: Some charges may have included both drink and drugs.

Main charges

3.27 Table 9 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 charge of 'breach of the peace', a decrease in aggravations related to the statutory charge of 'act in a racially aggravated manner'. Figures for the statutory charge of 'threatening or abusive behaviour' (under section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010), rose to a similar figure from 2011-12 following a dip in 2012-13.

Table 9: Main charges that the religious aggravations were added to

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Main charge Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Breach of the peace 503 73 365 32 134 20 68 12
Threatening or abusive behaviour 99 14 414 47 385 56 416 71
Assault 39 6 35 4 26 4 34 6
Offensive behaviour at football - - N/A N/A 35 5 14 2
Threatening communications - - N/A N/A 4 1 2 0.3
Act in racially aggravated manner - - N/A N/A 61 9 4 0.7
Other 52 8 62 7 42 6 49 8
Total 693 100 876 100 687 100 587 100

Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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

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.

3.28 Table 10 shows a breakdown of the main charges by religion. There was a broadly similar proportional spread in the charges for breach of the peace and threatening or abusive behaviour given for offences against Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. However, there was a different profile for charges including other religions, notably Islam, where there was a much smaller proportion of charges that were breaches of the peace.

Table 20: Breakdown of main charges in 2013-14 by religion

Main charge Catholicism Protestantism Islam Judaism Christianity (General)
Charges % Charges % Charges % Charges % Charges %
Breach of the Peace 41 11 25 15 2 4 2 22 1 25
Threatening or abusive behaviour 263 72 124 73 32 67 7 78 2 50
Assault 22 6 9 5 2 4 0 0 0 0
Offensive behaviour at football 11 3 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Act in racially aggravated manner 0 0 0 0 3 6 0 0 0 0
Other 30 8 9 5 9 19 0 0 1 25
Total 367 100 169 100 48 100 9 100 4 100

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 3.29 The COPFS publish an annual report on hate crime in Scotland. This provides more detail on the outcomes of these charges and can be found at http://www.copfs.gov.uk/publications/equality-and-diversity. As explained in this report, court proceedings were commenced in 89% of charges with a religious aggravation, a slightly higher proportion than in 2012-13 when proceedings were commenced in around 82% of charges.

3.30 Many cases are on-going and information about final convictions will be presented in Scottish Government 'criminal proceedings' publications[20]. Provisional information from the COPFS case management database shows that court proceedings had been concluded for 280 of these main charges. Of this number 238 (85%) charges resulted in convictions. As shown in table 11 the most common disposal recorded was a monetary penalty (39%) similar to 2012-13. A community penalty was given for 72 charges (30%), an increase from 2012-13. Custody was the disposal for 57 charges (24%), similar to 2012-13. Other[21] disposals were recorded for the remaining 16 charges (7%).

Table 11: Recorded disposals

2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Disposal Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges % Number of charges %
Monetary penalty 163 42 217 43 104 40 93 39
Community penalty[22] 99 25 110 22 61 23 72 30
Custody 70 18 103 20 60 23 57 24
Other 58 15 75 15 37 14 16 7
Total 390 100 505 100 262 100 238 100

Contact

Email: Ben Cavanagh