MSPs question Scottish Government on anti-Catholic hate crime

MSPs from three opposition parties in Holyrood have questioned the Scottish Government on its intentions with regard to the tackling of anti-Catholic hate crime.

Elaine Smith (Scottish Labour), Ross Greer (Scottish Greens) and Jeremy Balfour (Scottish Conservatives) have all challenged the Government in recent months, on the back of further evidence that anti-Catholic hate is still prevalent in Scotland, making up 57% of religiously aggravated charges in 2016-17.

The Scottish Government has responded by stating that it is their “ambition is to create cohesive, supportive and resilience communities where hate crime and prejudice is reduced and community cohesion is strengthened” and referred to the action plan ‘Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities’ which aims to tackle prejudice and hate crime through a number of initiatives. One of these initiatives is a national hate crime awareness raising campaign which will be launched later this month.

Representatives of the Church have met with the Scottish Government to express concerns around the ongoing problem of anti-Catholic hate in Scotland and to ask for recognition of the existence of a deep rooted anti-Catholic problem and a greater focus on the causes rather than simply tackling the symptoms. The Church will continue to engage with Government and with the Lord Bracadale Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland.

The full text of the questions put forward by Elaine Smith, Ross Greer and Jeremy Balfour and Government answers can be found, below:

Question S5W-10389: Elaine Smith, Central Scotland, Scottish Labour, Date Lodged: 19/07/2017

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-10012 by Angela Constance on 18 July 2017, whether it will provide a breakdown of what specific action it is taking to address discrimination against Roman Catholics in response to the findings in the report; what outcomes it expects from this, and how it will measure the success of it.

Answered by Kevin Stewart (09/08/2017): Our ambition is to create cohesive, supportive and resilience communities where hate crime and prejudice is reduced and community cohesion is strengthened. In June, the Scottish Government set out a range of steps to tackle hate crime and prejudice in our action plan Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities. This is available at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/06/1336.Information on current funded projects to tackle sectarianism in Scotland is available athttps://beta.gov.scot/news/500-000-for-anti-sectarianism-projects/. Wren and Greyhound carried out an evaluation of the community based projects between 2012 and 2016, and a summary of this report is available at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00522251.pdf. Alongside regular statistical publications on hate crime, we use measurements such as the Scottish Social Attitudes survey to understand how attitudes to different groups have changed.

The Minister for Community Safety expects to meet with representatives of the Catholic Church following the summer recess to discuss these issues.

 

Question S5W-10811: Ross Greer, West Scotland, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 16/08/2017

To ask the Scottish Government, further to its news release of 13 June 2017, Next steps on tackling hate crime, what action it has taken to address anti-Catholic hate crime that does not take place within football stadiums.

Answered by Angela Constance (06/09/2017): I refer the member to the answer to questions S5W-10389 on 9 August 2017, and S5W-10012 on 18 July 2017, which outline some of the action we have taken to address anti-Catholic hate crime in Scotland. It is available on the Parliament’s website, the search facility for which can be found at: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx

 

Question S5W-10960: Jeremy Balfour, Lothian, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 28/08/2017

To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-10389 by Kevin Stewart on 9 August 2017, what action it is taking to tackle anti-Catholic prejudice specifically.

Answered by Angela Constance (22/09/2017): Our Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities action plan contains a number of actions around tackling hate crime, including the establishment of a multi-agency delivery group and expert advisory panel to progress the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion; a national hate crime awareness raising campaign which will be launched in the autumn; and consideration of the findings of Lord Bracadale’s independent review of hate crime legislation.The role of education is recognised as critical in this regard, and we are committed to progressing the implementation of our new relationships and behaviour policy; publishing a refreshed approach to anti-bullying, including prejudice-based bullying; considering learning from evaluation of the education inspection indicator relating to inclusion, working with Education Scotland to ensure that best practice is disseminated; and exploring further the potential of youth work (as a model of peer-led intervention) to contribute to tackling hate crime and prejudice.

We will continue to work closely with representatives of the Catholic Church and other key stakeholders as we implement these actions.

For information, a full list of action commitments in this area can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/06/1336/5.

 

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