Scotland publishes figures for hate crime charges

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The Scottish prosecution service has released the first figures on homophobic and transphobic hate crime charges.

In the year since new hate crime offences came into law, 448 charges were made where there was an “aggravation” of homophobia. Fourteen charges were made with an “aggravation” of gender identity.

Scotland has been recording charges in crimes based on anti-religious prejudice for five years. Last year, 693 charges were made.

The figures relate to the number of crimes where a decision was made to prosecute.

However, Stonewall Scotland claimed that the true numbers of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes could be far higher, as research suggests most victims do not contact police.

The charity says its own studies have shown that the majority of victims felt there was no point contacting police or thought they would not be believed. One study found that a third of LGBT Scottish people had been physically attacked because of their sexual orientation. But 70 per cent did not report the incident to police.

Carl Watt, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “These figures give us an indication of the prejudice that still exists across Scotland towards people due to their sexual orientation or gender identity; prejudice which has no place in modern Scotland. Strong leadership and a visible commitment is now required from the Scottish government to tackle this prejudice and ensure it is removed from our schools, from our football terraces, from our streets.”

“It is essential that these crimes are reported and recorded to build an accurate picture of this problem. We also call for a more thorough breakdown of the statistics, including types of crime, geographical location and any repeat offences. We continue to work with Scotland’s police forces to encourage all victims and witnesses to come forward.”