8.2 Focus on harassment and discrimination
This section reports on adults' experiences of harassment and discrimination, by examining whether they had any incidents in which they were insulted, pestered or intimidated in any way (in person or by some other means) by someone outwith their household in the year prior to interview.
These findings are based on questions asked to one-quarter of the overall sample. As agreed with SCJS users, quarter-sample results are generally not broken down within the report for population sub-groups. However, some breakdowns are presented here for illustration. All results for demographic and area characteristics are provided in the 2019/20 SCJS online data tables.
Additional information on other experiences of stalking and harassment are captured in the self-completion element of the SCJS and reported on in Chapter 9 of this report, with the below summary focusing on key findings on this topic from the main (face-to-face) survey.
How common were experiences of harassment in Scotland in 2019/20?
Most adults did not experience being insulted, pestered or intimidated in 2019/20.
In 2019/20, 13% of adults said that they had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in the previous year, in line with the proportion of respondents who experienced such incidents in 2008/09 and 2018/19.
Across most of the population sub-groups focussed on in this report there was no differences in the proportion that said they had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in the previous year, however the proportion was higher among victims than non-victims (30% compared to 10%, respectively).
What can the SCJS tell us about the nature of harassment?
Generally experiences of harassment in 2019/20 took place in person, with verbal abuse the most common behaviour encountered.
Of those who said they had experienced harassment in the year prior to interview the vast majority (88%) were insulted, pestered or intimidated 'in person', whilst 13% said this happened 'in writing via text, email, messenger or posts on social media'. This suggests that 'offline' experiences of harassment remain much more common than 'online'. However electronic communication does play a role in a sizeable proportion of cases of harassment. Further details on the insight the 2019/20 SCJS is able to shed on the relationship between the internet and crime are outlined in the 'Cyber crime in Scotland' section.
Most people who had experienced harassment said it had happened on more than one occasion in the previous year (63%), with 36% reporting only one incident. A fifth (20%) of people said they experienced harassing behaviour too many times to remember.
Verbal abuse was the most common type of harassment in 2019/20, experienced by 87% of the victims. Other types of harassment, particularly those involving physical contact, were much less commonly experienced, as shown in Figure 8.5. More in-depth analysis about the extent and nature of violent incidents in 2019/20 is provided in the 'Focus on violent crime' chapter.
Base: All respondents who had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in previous 12 months (160). Variable: QHWHAT2.
Most experiences of harassment were not perceived to have any particular motivating factor.
To explore whether incidents may have been related to discrimination, respondents who experienced harassment in the previous 12 months were asked whether they thought any particular - perceived or actual - characteristic they hold may have motivated the offender in any encounters. A range of possible reasons in relation to the most recent (or only) experience are outlined in Figure 8.6 below.
Around three-in-five (61%) did not think any of their characteristics were an influencing factor in their most recent (or only) experience of harassment. 11% thought that their gender, gender identity or perception of this was a possible motivating factor, while 9% believed their age and 8% believed their ethnic origin or race was a possible influence.
Since 2012/13, there has been an increase in the proportion citing their gender, gender identity or perception of this as a possible motivating factor, from 5% in 2012/13 to 11% in 2019/20, while the other possible motivating factors showed no change.
Since the last SCJS in 2018/19, there has been no change across all possible motivating factors.
Base: All respondents who had been insulted, pestered or intimidated in previous 12 months (160). Variable: QHDISCRIM1.