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Hate crime legislation review launches public consultation

31 August 2017

Views from the public on how to reshape Scotland's hate crime legislation have been invited in a consultation opened today by Lord Bracadale, the retired Court of Session judge chairing an independent review for the Scottish Government.

With a wide remit, the review covers all offences targeting criminal conduct in relation to race, religion, disability and other protected characteristics – including aspects of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, the subject of a proposed repeal by a member's bill in the Scottish Parliament.

Three versions of the consultation document have been produced: a full version aimed mainly at a technical, legal audience; a non-technical guide, aimed at the general reader with no specialist legal knowledge; and an easy read version using simple language and pictures.

The review follows the work of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion, chaired by Dr Duncan Morrow, which concluded a year ago that the language used around hate crime was unclear and recommended that the Scottish Government should explore this further. It also recommended that further consideration should be given to the scope of existing hate crime legislation and whether it should be extended to protect additional groups.

Lord Bracadale aims to explore what type of conduct the criminal law should identify as hate crime and whether the current set of offences adequately covers such conduct. The questions in the consultation paper are deliberately open, with no provisional proposals at this stage.

Since he was appointed in January, Lord Bracadale has consulted with interested organisations on their experience of hate crime, met with police, prosecutors and sheriffs, and commissioned an academic report analysing the legal position in Scotland as compared with other countries.

Launching the review, he commented: "I intend to explore a wide range of options and ideas. In order to do so I seek the assistance of all who have an interest, whether engaged in the criminal justice system, or as members of existing or potential protected groups, or as members of the public generally."

Click here to access the three versions of the document. The deadline for responses is 23 November 2017. Lord Bracadale's report is expected to be published in early 2018.


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