Recommendations for how to improve and strengthen Scotland's hate crime laws have been unveiled by a senior judge.
Lord Bracadale has recommended that existing laws be extended to include hostility on basis of gender or age.
There were a total of 5,708 hate crime charges in Scotland in 2016-17, including 3,349 racial, 673 religious, 1,075 LGB, 40 transgender and 188 disability hate crimes, but it is widely accepted that the real level of hate crime is far higher than reported in official statistics, as a significant number go unreported.
The report found:
- There can be confusion about what a hate crime is and how it is dealt with.
- The language used in the law can be difficult to understand.
- It can be unclear what sort of behaviour makes something a hate crime and why that’s appropriate.
- Not everyone agrees that there should be hate crime laws: it can be unclear what the benefits are in singling out this type of crime.
The report goes on to recommend changes to the language used in hate crime laws, new provisions that would allow the courts to recognise offences that involve the exploitation of vulnerable people and the consolidation of existing hate crime legislation.
Scottish Ministers will now determine what action they take.