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


Antisemitic hate crime remains constant

19 June 2018

The Scottish Government and Crown Office have released the statistics for hate crime charges in Scotland for the year 2017–18, showing that the number of charges with a religious element has fallen from 744 to 642. This 14% reduction reverses the significant rise the previous year, and is only slightly higher than the number of charges in 2016–17, and well down on the peak of 896 charges in 2011–12.

Overall, there were 3,249 charges for hate crimes of all kinds, continuing the reduction to almost 30% lower than the peak in 2011-12, but the picture is very mixed. Charges relating to disability rose by more than 50%, and sexual orientation and transgender identity also rose, while the decrease in race hatred continued.

However, it should be noted that the figures are not entirely comparable, as charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, which accounted for 59 charges in 2016–17, have not been included since the Act was repealed in April.

The reduction was largely attributable to a drop in the number of charges relating to Roman Catholicism, which fell by more than 25% from 428 to 319, while charges for conduct relating to Protestantism (179 to 174), Islam (114 to 115), and Judaism (23 to 21) were all stable. Of the charges relating to Judaism, 13 related to threatening or abusive behaviour (62%) compared with half the previous year, and there were once again no charges for assault.

Although the overall number of charges for crimes relating to Judaism are low, it remains a matter of concern that they are out of proportion to the number of Jewish people in Scotland. Although barely one tenth of one per cent of the population of Scotland, 3% of religiously motivated hate crime is antisemitic in nature. More generally, while anti-Christian hatred has fallen significantly, antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred has remained broadly constant. As we have noted previously, as evidenced by other parts of Europe, antisemitism does not require the presence of Jews to flourish. Why Scotland is in such poor company is a matter that should concern the Scottish Government and indeed all reasonable people.

number of
number of
size of community
(2011 census)
charges per
charges per
% change
– 13.8%
 Protestant (CoS)
– 2.8%
 Roman Catholic
– 25.5%
+ 0.9%
– 8.7%

The figures for 2016–17 include charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012; those for 2017–18 do not.


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


Commenting on the figures the Lord Advocate said:

"Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, creating division and fear. That is why we treat it so seriously and why we will continue to do so.

It is encouraging that many victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and we would encourage more to do so.

People who live in Scotland, regardless of their personal or social circumstances, can be assured that they live in a just society and that they will be protected from crime – and in particular from hate crime."

The Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing added:

"It is reassuring to see more people are coming forward to report hate crime … A significant amount of work has been done by Police Scotland, the Crown Office and community organisations over the past year to ensure this is happening.

But I still believe this isn't the full picture and remain concerned that crime motivated by prejudice is underreported and would urge anyone who experiences it to ensure it's reported properly.

Hate crime has no place in Scotland, and we will continue to work with communities to build trust and understanding and, wherever possible, prevent hate crime from happening in the first place."

SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski said:

"While it is reassuring that the number of charges for antisemitic hate crime has leveled out, it remains a matter of concern that they have not fallen in line with other religious hatred, and that Jewish people remain 30 times more likely than others to be targeted for their religion, and we very much welcome the attention that both the Scottish Government and Police Scotland are giving to this. We know that all hate crime is under-reported, so it is difficult to determine whether trends relate to changing patterns of crime or changing patterns of reporting, but we encourage members of the Community to report all incidents, however apparently trivial, as they may assist the police and prosecutors in identifying patterns of behaviour."


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