Tackling prejudice and building connected communities: Scottish Government response

Our response to the report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion.


Strategic coordination and leadership

The 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.

We agree that a strong multi-agency response towards these issues is essential and to support this we will establish a multi-agency delivery group to take forward the implementation of the recommendations within the Advisory Group's report. This will have Ministerial oversight, and will include key stakeholders such as Police Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. We will ask the group to consider measures to promote a strategic approach towards tackling hate crime, eradicating prejudice and building community cohesion, whilst respecting the independent responsibilities of COPFS and Police Scotland.

We also recognise the importance of ensuring our approach to building community cohesion is informed by expert advice and opinion. To support this, we will 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.

More generally, we will work to ensure that our approach to tackling hate crime and prejudice and building community cohesion is appropriately located within the Scottish Government's broader strategic agenda around promoting equality and tackling discrimination. Linking to initiative such as the Race Equality Framework, the Disability Delivery Plan and the New Scots refugee integration strategy reflects the importance of effectively tackling hate crime in these communities, and the necessity of working closely with communities to take this work forward.

We also recognise that our key partners are doing important work in this area. In addition to Police Scotland, we continue to work closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) who continue to engage with stakeholders. Following their successful biennial conference on Tackling Prejudice in March 2016, COPFS are planning a further conference for March 2018. They have received wide recognition for their work on corporate equality and diversity, and have worked closely with stakeholders to raise awareness, develop teaching resources, and train ambassadors for community cohesion and safety. We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland, COPFS and others to reduce hate crime and build community cohesion.

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should develop clear plans for taking forward the public sector equality duty to 'foster good relations' , and encourage other public bodies to do likewise. It also recommended that local examples of good practice in tackling hate crime should be identified and presented in a consistent way to inform policy and practice.

We recognise that it can sometimes be challenging for public authorities to apply the 'fostering good relations' aspect of the Public Sector Equality Duty. We will work with the Scottish National Equality Improvement Programme ( SNEIP) Board to share best practice in applying this aspect of the Duty, and consider with them what further guidance and support may be required for public authorities in this area. Through the SNEIP, we are in the process of developing a collaborative hub to share best practice in fulfilling the Public Sector Equality Duty, and will use this to share this practice across public service practitioners. We will task the multi-agency delivery group with identifying examples of good practice in tackling hate crime, and use the collaborative hub to share these.


The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should lead discussion on the development of clearer terminology and definitions around hate crime, prejudice and community cohesion.

Hate crime is defined in law as a criminal act that is aggravated by prejudice held by the perpetrator in relation to the victim or victims. The criminal act can take any form as stated under criminal law (including breach of the peace, assault etc). Prejudice is defined as a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. As for community cohesion, we believe that a cohesive society is one with a common vision and a sense of belonging by all communities; a society in which the diversity of people's backgrounds and circumstances is appreciated and valued; and a society in which similar life opportunities are available to all.

We recognise that the term 'hate crime' can sometimes be challenging in relation to recognition of the event by both victim and perpetrators, and we will continue to engage with stakeholders on these matters. We will also engage in dialogue on how to strengthen the understanding of links between prejudice and hate crime, and "what works" to tackle prejudice. We will continue to articulate our definition of community cohesion along with our approach to it, to ensure this is widely understood. Across all of these concepts, we will consider how terminology and definition may become more useful in seeking to tackle and address these issues.

In some cases, specific terminology exists that has been agreed internationally and which helps to better define these issues. One example is the definition of anti-Semitism [1] which was agreed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in May 2016. We have already said that we find the definition to be helpful in describing manifestations of anti-Semitism. We will adopt the definition to inform our work in this area, and work with stakeholders to better understand how the definition translates into improved practice for tackling anti-Semitism.

On 26 January the Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs announced that Lord Bracadale would carry out an independent review of hate crime legislation. Although not specifically stated within his remit, Lord Bracadale may consider the terminology and definitions used in relation to hate crime legislation.

Public awareness and education

The Advisory Group recommended that public education should be undertaken to improve understanding of the nature and extent of hate crime.

At a parliamentary debate on working together to tackle hate crime and prejudice that took place on 9 November, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities announced that the Scottish Government would develop a country-wide campaign to raise awareness of the effects of hate crime on individuals and communities.

Our approach taking this campaign forward will be three fold. We want to raise awareness amongst people who are at risk of experiencing hate crime to increase their understanding of what it constitutes and encourage them to report it. We want to ensure that perpetrators understand the impact of their behaviour on people and society. We want the wider population to have a better understanding of what a hate crime is. And we want anyone who witnesses such crimes to have a greater knowledge of safe intervention methods that may be adopted during or after the crime has taken place, as well as providing advice on all the various available options that can be used to report these crimes safely and confidentially.

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should encourage all primary and secondary educational institutions to use Curriculum for Excellence to address issues of prejudice and hate crime. It also recommended that the Scottish Government and Education Scotland should utilise the schools inspection framework to better monitor how schools are tackling issues relating to prejudice and equality, including identifying models of best practice and supporting efforts to raise standards in all schools.

The Scottish Government published revised guidance on relationships, sexual health and parenthood ( RSHP) in 2014, which addresses these issues. Many local authorities have already changed their planning and delivery of RSHP and personal & social education to include the revised guidance. Going forward, we will progress the implementation of our new relationships and behaviour policy, which supports local authorities and schools to further improve relationships and behaviour in their learning communities.

We are also refreshing our National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland's Children and Young People, which includes bullying based on prejudice, and this will be published later in 2017. The Deputy First Minister recently agreed to a request from the Scottish Parliament's Equalities and Human Rights Committee for further engagement by the Committee on this issue. The Scottish Government will carefully consider the issues raised by the Committee and will publish the refreshed guidance later this year.

Education Scotland is continuing to self‑evaluate how well it delivers its equality duties, and there are a number of on-going initiatives including the production of a revised strategy and policy on equality which is currently being consulted on internally.

The self-evaluation tool 'How Good is our School 4' was launched in September 2015 and came into force for all schools in August 2016. This national self-evaluation framework includes a safeguarding quality indicator on ensuring wellbeing, equality and inclusion. This indicator focuses on ensuring wellbeing entitlements and protected characteristics supports all learners to maximise their successes and achievement. Education Scotland's inspection and review work has a key role in ensuring inclusion by promoting equality and fairness for all learners. It does this by making sure establishments and services are held accountable to stakeholders, and by driving improvement and capacity building, through evaluating the extent to which education and service providers bring about inclusion and equity in education. 'How Good is Our School 4' and 'How Good is Our Early Learning and Childcare' include this indicator. From August 2016, all inspectors of early learning and childcare establishments, primary, secondary, special and independent schools inspections have included evaluation of this indicator.

Education Scotland will report on quality indicator evaluations across establishments and on evidence of the quality of practice. They already undertake analysis of intelligence and evidence from inspection activity, and from partners in their wide range of professional networks, which is used to identify gaps and strengths in provision; review existing Education Scotland materials on the National Improvement Hub and corporate website in relation to good practice; and contribute to the development and provision of policy advice, if appropriate. More generally, in sharing practice, Education Scotland issues newsletters, updates inspectors on sector leading practice, local authority link officers sharing interesting best practice and professional networks used to exemplify areas of emerging practice.

The Advisory Group recommended that key stakeholders that contribute to the professional development and continuing professional development of teachers ( e.g. Education Scotland, University Schools of Education, local authorities, and the General Teaching Council of Scotland) should seek to develop the capacity of the teaching workforce to better understand issues of prejudice and equality in the context of their role as educational professionals.

The Scottish Government expects all new, guidance and promoted teachers - and eventually all teachers - to undertake training on equality. We will work with the General Teaching Council for Scotland ( GTCS) and Education Scotland to provide more support to teachers on equality issues through Initial Teacher Education programmes and CPD. The Scottish Government recently published a content analysis of Initial Teacher Education ( ITE), including the equalities element of ITE, and will now consider the findings with universities and the GTCS. The results of this piece of work, alongside GTCS's work to review the Teaching Standards, represent the first steps towards discussions on future content.

The Advisory Group recommended that Education Scotland should explore further the potential of youth work (as a model of peer-led intervention) to contribute to tackling hate crime and prejudice. It also recommended that youth work practice in the area of challenging prejudice and promoting inclusion and cohesion should be shared with relevant partners including police, schools and local government.

We know youth work organisations and the youth work sector are continuously engaging with young people and other professionals in innovative collaborative ventures with schools, colleges and key services around employability, sports, culture, health, justice amongst other things. Youth work contributes positively to a wide range of government policies and has a significant impact in improving the life chances of young people. In partnership with a range of stakeholders, we will continue to implement the National Youth Work Strategy of 2014-19, and we will work with the sector to identify steps to progress this recommendation. In this context, we will take forward work with youth work organisations specifically to build capacity and share practice around hate crime and prejudice.


The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government should consider whether the existing criminal law provides sufficient protections for those who may be at risk of hate crime, for example based on gender, age or membership or other groups such as refugees and asylum seekers.

As part of his independent review of hate crime legislation, Lord Bracadale is considering whether changes need to be made to the current laws, whether existing offences should be extended to cover other groups; and whether all hate crimes should be brought into one area of legislation. The review will include public consultation with key stakeholders and is expected to report to Ministers in early 2018.

The Advisory Group recommended that Police Scotland and its partners should review the effectiveness of the third party reporting centre network and develop action steps to improve this, as well as address barriers to reporting .

The Scottish Government will ask the multi-agency delivery group to look at these issues and consider how to address barriers, ensuring that our approach is informed by Police Scotland's on-going work to develop the third party reporting infrastructure. Police Scotland have conducted an internal review of the third party reporting process and identified a number of areas for potential improvement. Recommendations around the recognition and recording methods used to capture support provided to third party reporting centres are currently being progressed.

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government and partners should explore the use of restorative justice methods with victims and perpetrators of hate crime.

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing general guidance relating to restorative justice soon. This is being developed in collaboration with restorative justice experts and those with expertise in dealing with victims' issues, to ensure that the interests of all those participating in the restorative justice process are reflected. We will consider further how we disseminate this guidance to support restorative justice approaches in relation to prejudice based crime, where this is seen to be appropriate.

Public Services and employment

The Advisory Group recommended that local government and key partners should afford building community cohesion greater prioritisation within community planning structures, and link this to targets to reduce the incidence of hate crime and isolation. They also recommended that public services should ensure that their systems for managing complaints and feedback and reporting on the outcomes of complaints and feedback are fit for purpose, and work with affected minority communities to develop these further.

It is of course a matter for local government and community planning partners to decide what they prioritise based on their local circumstances. So to support their considerations and highlight the Advisory Group's recommendations, we will invite CoSLA and other relevant partners to join the multi-agency delivery group so we can work together to consider these issues further.

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government work with all stakeholders (including transport providers and workers) to consider how better to protect those experiencing hate crime on public transport .

One of the actions in 'Going Further', the Scottish Government's new Accessible Travel Framework to support disabled people to travel, is to develop a transport hate crime charter which will be modelled on the current 'Together Let's Drive Hate Crime Out' charter and will be agreed with transport service providers providing clear, common standards and consistent processes. The Charter will deliver one of the co-produced actions in the Framework which were agreed between disability organisations, transport providers, local and national government. We want it to ensure culture change on transport, so victims and witnesses feel increasingly confident in reporting hate crime and challenging it in a safe way. Although this approach has been developed in coproduction with disabled people's organisations, it is also relevant to and will consider the impact on other protected characteristics. Many of the steps to be taken under this action will have positive impacts for everyone, such as trying to ensure consistent CCTV retention timescales that support the work of the police.

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government work with employer bodies and others to explore improved methods to prevent, detect and respond to hate crime and prejudice in the workplace .

We will gather further evidence of individual experience of hate crime and prejudice in the workplace. Thereafter, we will convene key stakeholders to discuss further work in this area in the context of our wider ambitions around the Fair Work agenda.

Digital and online abuse

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government undertake work with key stakeholders to improve the monitoring of and response to online hate crime and prejudice .

The independent review of hate crime legislation being carried out by Lord Bracadale will consider the effectiveness of the current legislative framework in tackling online hate crime. Following receipt of his recommendations, we will consider any recommendations that Lord Bracadale makes in this area and reflect upon what further protections may be necessary in respect of online hatred and threatening communications. More broadly, we recognise that, with the rise in use of social media, hatred and prejudice has manifested itself much more visible in online settings. Recognising the serious concerns around this, the Scottish Government will engage with stakeholders on what more we can do to prevent and tackle online hatred and misogyny.

Data collection and evidence

The Advisory Group recommended that the Scottish Government works with partners to improve the monitoring and data collection in relation to hate crime, and to develop methods to include qualitative indices of improvement in community cohesion for minorities.

We agree that developing the evidence base on hate crime is a key priority and have already begun work to support this. We previously outlined plans to produce more detailed information on police recorded hate crime and are working with Police Scotland as they develop their hate crime data. Once complete, the intention is to produce more detailed hate crime statistics. Input from equality stakeholders will be important to us as we take this work forward.

On community cohesion, we are in the process of refreshing the National Performance Framework which includes National Outcome 11 (which states that "we have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others"). An internal steering group jointly chaired by the Chief Social Policy Adviser and the Director for Safer Communities has been taking this forward, and consideration is being given to the introduction of qualitative indicators which would complement an expanded quantitative data set.


Back to top