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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Good news and bad news about hate crime

14 June 2016

The statistics for religiously aggravated hate crime in Scotland released by the Scottish Government and Crown Office for the year 2015–16 show a slight increase overall on the previous year, the first annual increase since the peak of 896 in 2011–12. 

There was a reduction of 28% in the number of antisemitic hate crimes reported, but the number of incidents relating to Islam almost doubled, and the increase was not attributable to a single incident as was the case in 2012–13. There were also large increases in hate crimes related to sexual orientation (up 20%) and disability (up 14%). Although there was a 49% increase in the total number of charges (from 193 to 287) under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act, none of these charges related to conduct directed against either Judaism or Islam (1 each in 2014–15). The vast majority of charges were for threatening or abusive behavior, but worryingly, assault accounts for 11% (Judaism) and 22% (Islam) of charges, compared with only 8% of the total number of charges.

With regard to antisemitic conduct, the number of incidents has not fallen back to the level before the unprecedented peak in 2014, and despite the fall in antisemitic incidents and the rise in most other categories, the number remains disproportionate to the size of the Community.

number of
number of
size of community
(2011 census)
charges per
charges per
% change
 Protestant (CoS)
–  2.8%
 Roman Catholic
+   9.7%
+ 89.0%
– 28.0%

The table aggregates all offences with a religious aggravation, including those under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.


The table excludes a small number of charges offensive to Christianity in general or to other religions.


Figures for previous years may not match those published at the time because of prosecution decisions made in the interim.

Commenting on the figures, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson expressed concern particularly at the rise in alleged offences against Islam, and added: “One incident of hate crime is one too many. Intolerance in any form is simply unacceptable and there is no place for it in 21st century Scotland.”

The Justice Secretary also said that the increase in the number of charges "does indicate an improvement in the willingness of the public to report these crimes, and that should be welcomed." SCoJeC echoes that sentiment, and continues to urge members of the Community to report all incidents – antisemitism and other forms of hate crime cannot be effectively tackled if their extent is not known, so all incidents should be reported so that the authorities are aware of the true scale of the problem. In an emergency, always dial 999. Non-urgent reports should be made to the police by phoning the national non-emergency number 101, or using the Third Party Reporting form on this website.

SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski said: “Although the reduction in the number of antisemitic incidents is welcome, the relatively high number remains a concern, as does the disproportionate number compared with abusive behaviour directed against other religions. More needs to be done to counter the negativity that we found in our recent study of What’s changed about being Jewish in Scotland when no fewer than 10% of the sample told us that they could think of nothing at all good about being Jewish in Scotland. 

We are also concerned to see the increasing number of hate crimes against Muslims, ranging from cowardly verbal abuse in social media to attacks on individuals and religious centres. Hate crime is defined by its selection of the victims because of their membership of a particular group, and it therefore makes all members of that group – and indeed all minorities – feel vulnerable. As Jews we understand this more than most, and we therefore once again condemn unreservedly the irrational hatred that demonises entire communities, express our sympathy and solidarity with the Muslim community, and reaffirm our commitment to a diverse Scotland of many cultures, faiths, and traditions. As a community which has a proud record of engagement with others through interfaith and inter-community activity, we wish the Muslim community a Ramadan Mubarak, a month of blessings, security, and peace for us all.”



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