Tackling prejudice and building connected communities action plan: implementation overview

A report providing an overview of implementation of the actions set out in the Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Plan.

2. Strategic co-ordination and leadership

2.1 Establish a multi-agency delivery group

Background to action

The 2016 Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should encourage a greater multi-agency strategic and operational approach towards tackling hate crime, eradicating prejudice and building community cohesion that is clearly linked to community planning structures and underpinned by guidance for partners. In response, we committed to the following actions.

Action 1

Establish a national multi-agency delivery group with ministerial oversight to take forward the implementation of the Advisory Group's recommendations


In June 2017, we established the ministerially-led Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities Action Group. The key priorities identified by the Action Group were on victim support through raising awareness of hate crime and encouraging reporting, and the need to ensure better evidence and data around hate crime.

The Action Group comprised a range of strategic delivery partners and equalities organisations that embrace diversity, champion equality, inclusion and human rights, and stand united against hatred and prejudice. Each organisation has an area of expertise and, by working collectively, the Action Group has actively helped to build inclusive and cohesive communities that embrace diversity, meeting the Scottish Government's vision of building a 'One Scotland' where diversity is celebrated and everyone has the opportunity to flourish.

2.2 Community cohesion

Background to action

We recognise the importance of working closely with communities to effectively tackle hate crime and build community cohesion, and have linked our approach into the wider strategic agenda around promoting equality and tackling discrimination, including the Race Equality Framework, A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People Action Plan and the New Scots refugee integration strategy.

Action 2

Establish an Advisory Panel on community cohesion, to provide expert advice on how we can strengthen our approach to building cohesive communities and safeguarding people from harm


We committed to establish an Advisory Panel on Community Cohesion to ensure our approach to building cohesive communities and safeguarding people from harm was informed by expert advice and opinion. In 2018 we initiated discussions with Dr Duncan Morrow, Dr Alison Strang and Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council, to consider how we might best strengthen our approach to building cohesion within and across communities in Scotland. Emerging pressures (such as the development of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act) meant that, during this early phase, resources were diverted elsewhere and this work was paused. As we begin development of a new hate crime strategy, we will resume consideration of the most useful methods for receiving expert advice on how to strengthen our approach to building cohesive communities and safeguarding people from harm in the Scottish context. This will include strengthening existing links within and across the Scottish Government's Connected Communities Division as well as across the recently established Equality, Inclusion and Human Rights Directorate. We will also seek the views of stakeholders on how best to receive and enact expert advice as we begin co-creation of the new hate crime strategy.

Action 3

Review our approach to engaging with communities to ensure that we are aware of their issues and concerns


We have linked in with the wider strategic agenda around promoting equality and tackling discrimination and have worked closely with communities to take forward our work to tackle hate crime, prejudice and to build community cohesion. There are a wide range of mechanisms in place in key areas of the Scottish Government to engage directly with diverse communities across Scotland and the organisations who work with them.

This includes regular engagement with the Action Group, equalities organisations, key faith and belief stakeholders and the Ethnic Minority National Resilience Network to ensure that we are aware of issues and concerns within communities. For example, issues were raised in regards to an increase in community tensions linked to the EU exit, and a rise in hate crime throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; we responded by launching a campaign in 2020 to increase awareness among the public and prompt positive action such as hate crime reporting. The evaluation of the campaign indicated that individuals would take action to report if they experienced or witnessed a hate crime. Campaign activity is discussed in fuller detail in respect of implementation of Action 17 (Chapter 6.1).

We also engaged with communities during the development and passage of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act (2021) ('the Hate Crime Act'), as well as on work to improve data and evidence and on third party reporting. We will continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders as we begin development of a new hate crime strategy later this year.

Action 4

Work with disabled people's organisations to implement our action plan on disability 'A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People' to address the underreporting of disability hate crime


We have worked with Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) and Police Scotland to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage greater reporting of disability hate crimes. This has included hate crime campaigns in 2017, 2018 and 2020, and the launch of a Hate Crime Charter to encourage reporting of hate crime on the bus and rail network in March 2021. In addition, awareness campaigns are also being taken forward on the ferries network, working in collaboration with both operators. Further details regarding the Hate Crime Charter can be seen in respect of implementation of Action 19 (Chapter 6.3). Evaluations of the hate crime campaigns, designed to increase awareness and motivate action among the public, have been positive, and indicated that around half of those who have seen or heard the campaigns have taken action as a result or would report a hate crime if they saw one in the future.[7] An evaluation of the Hate Crime Charter will be published in due course.

We have also engaged closely with DPOs during the development of the Hate Crime Act (including through public consultation), on work to improve data and evidence and on third party reporting.

Furthermore, Police Scotland and I Am Me Scotland have developed a national Keep Safe initiative. The initiative works with a network of local business to establish Keep Safe places throughout the community for disabled, vulnerable and elderly people to go if they feel lost or confused, if they feel scared or intimated, or if they have been the victim of a crime. The purpose of the Keep Safe initiative is to empower communities to make themselves safer places for all people, encourage social independence for disabled people and other diverse communities and to ensure disability hate crime and other forms of hate are identified and reported. There are currently 900 Keep Safe places across Scotland.

As part of the Keep Safe initiative, a targeted, annual national promotional campaign has been developed, which saw the first Keep Safe Awareness Day being held on 4 March 2021. This included social media messaging across national and local accounts as well as video messaging from ACC Ritchie, Police Scotland's Keep Safe champion, Police Scotland Youth Volunteers and I Am Me Scotland staff and volunteers.

Keep Safe highlights include:

  • I Am Me film developed and used for hate crime training and education.
  • Keep Safe awareness films (BSL and standard) developed.
  • Keep Safe Scotland phone app developed to facilitate safe and independent travel across Scotland, which has links to Third Party hate crime reporting and the Herbert Protocol.
  • Keep Safe online training.
  • Online Keep Safe induction staff training developed.
  • Keep Safe supporters' training designed for Police Scotland Youth Volunteers online.
  • Keep Safe animations designed (easy read and standard).
  • Educational Platform designed and developed which has P1-P7 online lessons, activities and teacher plans designed with children and young people, promoting early intervention and prevention.
  • Over 1000 young people and disabled people have received Keep Safe Ambassador training, which is a full day co-delivered with Police Scotland and trains participants how to recognise and report hate crimes safely.

Action 5

Work through the Race Equality Framework to engage with minority ethnic communities in building community cohesion and safety, and improving the lives of Scotland's minority ethnic communities


In our work to tackle hate crime and prejudice, we continue to engage with a number of race equality organisations, including those who represent minority ethnic communities. During the development of the Hate Crime Act we engaged closely with representatives from Scotland's minority ethnic communities, including through public consultation. These engagements helped to maintain the distinct legislative approach to tackling race-related hate crime in the new Hate Crime Act, which we recognise as being required due to the nature and prevalence of this type of offending. Ongoing work to tackle hate crime also forms part of our immediate priorities for race equality in Scotland.

We have also engaged with race equality organisations on the development of our marketing campaigns to increase awareness and motivate action among the public, to report hate crime. This included assisting on the design and providing feedback on the 'Dear Racists' creative to ensure it was relevant for their communities.

Race equality stakeholders have also assisted on work to improve data and evidence, drawing on the recommendations of the Committee of the United National Convention of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) on disaggregation of data on the victims of racially aggravated hate crime to identify trends and patterns, identify victims and provide an appropriate response to tackling it. Further details in respect of improving data and evidence can be seen in implementation of Action 15 (Chapter 5.1).

In 2018 and 2019, BEMIS and Police Scotland co-hosted the 'Thematic Conference on Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities' which provided an opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussion, and take a collaborative approach to develop policy and practice with particular focus on hate crime motivated by racial and religious prejudice. Keynote speakers discussed a number of themes, including restorative justice, legislation, the United Nations requirement for disaggregated data and evidence, and race equality educational resources. The Agenda also included 'Voices from Communities' to convey the lived experience and the impact of racial and religious hatred and prejudice on individuals and communities. The 2018 Conference generated eight learning outcomes.[8] The 2019 Conference returned to the key themes and included presentations and practical discussion opportunities. This enhanced the understanding by key stakeholders of how the key learning outcomes apply to the shared agenda of the Action Group. The discussions also generated an update on the learning outcomes and identified next steps.[9]

Action 6

In summer 2017, set out a range of initiatives supported through our Equality Budget that will contribute to tackling hate crime and prejudice, and building community cohesion


We have provided funding to organisations who support and engage with equalities groups to help inform understanding of the issues experienced by communities through the Equality National and Intermediary funding.[10] We have also supported groups to tackle hate crime, prejudice and build community cohesion through the Promoting Equality and Cohesion Fund (PECF),[11] for example, YouthLink Scotland's Action on Prejudice project, Interfaith Scotland and Remembering Srebrenica (Scotland) for their Lessons from Srebrenica project.

Interfaith Scotland provide training courses on religion and belief diversity, as well as sessions on the full spectrum of diversity.[12] The training courses tackle the stereotyping, scapegoating and misinformation around faith groups and other communities that so often serves to exacerbate societal divisions and hatred of minority groups.

The Scottish Government also works with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and Interfaith Scotland to support Scotland's national commemoration to honour the millions of people who lost their lives or were tortured during the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, to ensure lessons are learnt about what can happen if hatred and intolerance remain unchecked.

2.3 Public Sector Equality Duty

Background to action

The 2016 Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should develop clear plans for taking forward the public sector equality duty (PSED) to 'foster good relations', and encourage other public bodies to do likewise so that best practice in tackling hate crime can be identified to inform policy and practice. It was recommended that the Scottish Government work with the Scottish National Equality Improvement Programme (SNEIP), who are developing a collaborative hub, so that local examples of good practice in tackling hate crime are identified and shared across public service practitioners in a consistent way to inform policy and practice. In response, we committed to the following action.

Action 7

Work with the Scottish National Equality Improvement Programme to share best practice around fostering good relations in communities and consider what further guidance and support may be required to enable them to do this


Prior to COVID-19, Scottish Ministers committed to review the effectiveness of the PSED regime in Scotland, but this work was disrupted as the focus moved towards embedding equality and human rights into our COVID-19 response, recovery and renewal work. However, an intensive period of stakeholder consultation coupled with work to mainstream equality in policy and practice during the COVID crisis has taught us much about how the PSED works. This has added to the body of evidence we already have from previous and ongoing stakeholder engagement and research.

Therefore a report bringing together that learning and experience drew together initial conclusions, as a first stage of the review process, which suggests areas of focus for the next stage, was published in March 2021.[13]

Stage two of the review, which commenced in summer 2021, has involved a programme of engagement with duty-bearers to progress the areas of focus identified in the stage one report. Analysis of responses will help to inform the development of the new strategy for embedding equality and human rights in the work of the government, as per the commitment made in September's Programme for Government.

This will ensure that PSED is considered alongside the overall equality and human rights framework, which is vital given the importance of PSED as a key legislative driver for change. The multi-agency membership of SNEIP will help to ensure that views on best practice and guidance around fostering good relations in communities and tackling hate crime can be developed on a collective basis and disseminated widely across public authorities.

2.4 Equality outcomes

Background to action

In 2013, the Scottish Government published Equality Outcomes as a requirement of the PSED. The Outcomes recognised that a number of groups were concerned about hate crime but the 2016 Advisory Group's report indicated that this lacked clarity about what the outcome may look like and recommended that consideration should be given as to hate crime forming the basis of a future programme of work or include a specific equality outcome. In response, we committed to the following action.

Action 8

Set a specific outcome within our Equality Outcomes on hate crime, and report on progress through our Mainstreaming and Equality Outcomes publication


The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012, Regulation 4 requires that listed public authorities publish a set of equality outcomes which it considers will enable it to better perform the equality duty as set out in section 149(1) of the 2010 Act. Sets of outcomes must be published every four years, with reports on progress published two years after the outcomes have been set.

The Scottish Government's 2017 mainstreaming report[14] included a new set of outcomes which included 'People feel increasingly confident in reporting hate crime when they experience it or witness it, and the prejudicial attitudes that drive hate behaviours are reduced'.

The Scottish Government reported on progress on the outcome above in their Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report published on 30 April 2019.[15]

A final summary on progress against the outcome was published on 24 March 2021[16] and included updates on pieces of work undertaken to help achieve this outcome, including hate crime legislation, campaign activity and the Hate Crime Security Fund.

A £500,000 fund will help places of worship to take security measures against hate crime

Individual grants of up to £20,000 will be available for a maximum of three security measures to mitigate the risk for places of worship from hate crime. These can include, but are not limited to, CCTV, security doors, alarms, fencing, video intercoms and improved lighting.


Email: ConnectedCommunities@gov.scot

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