TIME TO GET THE FOCUS RIGHT ON HATE CRIME – MACASKILL
GROWING EPIDEMIC OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN EXPOSES SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO ACT
ALBA Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP has released figures which show that crimes of domestic abuse are at an all-time high having risen by 57% during Covid lockdown between 2019-20 and 2020-21.
He has said that these figures amount to a “growing epidemic of violence against women” which “exposes the Scottish Government’s repeated failure to act” in addressing hate crime and misogyny against women and girls. The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act became law in March 2021 but does not include sex as a hate crime “aggravator”.
The former Justice Secretary believes that all Hate Crimes should be prosecuted and that disability, race, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity are correctly included in the Hate Crime Act. However the failure by the Scottish Government to include sex in the Hate Crime Act and to make misogyny a hate crime are inexcusable.
Mr MacAskill has released a paper which shows that:
- Incidents of domestic abuse rose by 57% between 2019-20 (40,803) and 2020-21 (64,193).
- There has been a 34% increase in rape and attempted rape between 2013-14 (1,808) and 2018-19 (2,426).
- There has been a 36% increase in attempted rape between 2013-14 (1,690) and 2018-19 (2,293).
- There has been a 50% increase in sexual assault between
2013-14 (3,405) and 2018-19 (5,123).
In a statement Mr MacAskill said:
“As this paper shows the biggest problem in respect of hate crime in every community in Scotland and in ever increasing numbers is that of violence against women. At a time when recorded statistics show crimes of sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse on the rise, the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime Act, fails to address crimes that are motivated by prejudice and hate against women. That is not just unacceptable it is shameful.
“These figures show the Scottish Government’s repeated failures to act. The failure to include sex in the Hate Crime Act was a huge failure and went against all the available evidence. Since then whilst some hate crimes seem to have reduced violence against women and girls has increased.
“So why does the Hate Crime Act fail to address the fact that crimes of violence against women are at their highest ever level, by failing to include sex as an aggravator for hate crimes? And why is the Scottish Government continuing to drag its feet, nine months after promising action, when it comes to introducing a separate hate crime of misogyny?
“It is right that Hate Crimes should be prosecuted. Those who perpetrate such crimes on the basis of their prejudice and hate towards individuals regarding their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity are correctly included in the Hate Crime Act. Progress is being made on many fronts and that should continue. But the omission of violence against women and misogyny in the Act is staggering.
“The Scottish Government have compounded the failure to include sex in the Hate Crime Act by failing to bring forward a separate law to address misogyny. They are failing to focus and act where the problem is the greatest.
“That is why I believe that these crime statistics should be a ‘wake up’ call to the Scottish Government to act and to act now.
“It is time the Scottish Government acted to protect the section of our community who suffer most from hate crime. Baroness Helena Kennedy’s working group report must be accelerated, and the law amended to include all hate crime victims and especially those who suffer most”.
The Scottish Government Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill was passed in March 2021 following recommendations to consolidate all hate crime law into one bill contained in Lord Bracadale’s review of hate crime legislation.
The intention was stated to be to ensure that there was legislation capable of addressing crimes motivated by prejudice. The aggravators in the Act are:
Sexual orientation and
Concerns were expressed by women’s organisations over the fact that unlike the Equality Act 2010, sex as a protected characteristic had not been included as a hate crime aggravator even although statistics showed sexual assault, rape and domestic abuse was rising while crime overall in Scotland was decreasing.
During the passage of the bill an amendment was proposed that sex should be added as an aggravator. That was rejected by the Scottish Government who suggested that a stand-alone of misogynistic harassment be brought to parliament at a later date.
Accordingly, the Hate Crime Act doesn’t address sex-based hate. But what are the facts relating to hate crimes.
Aggravators Covered by the Hate Crime Act
Incidents of protected characteristic aggravated crimes recorded by Police Scotland 20014-15 to 2019-20.
|Total number of charges of an offence aggravated by prejudice related to disability||176||199||188||282||299||387|
|Total number of charges of an offence aggravated by prejudice related to sexual orientation||848||1027||1081||1116||1194||1486|
|Total number of charges of an offence aggravated by prejudice related to transgender identity||21||30||42||52||40||41|
|Total number of charges of race crimes||3820||3721||3367||3278||2921||3038|
|Total number of charges of an offence aggravated by religious prejudice||567||591||678||650||534||660|
It’s right that Hate Crimes should be prosecuted. Those who perpetrate such crimes on the basis of their prejudice and hate towards individuals regarding their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity are correctly included in the Hate Crime Bill. Progress is being made on many fronts and that should continue. But the omission of violence against women and misogyny in the Bill is staggering.
Incidents of sex aggravated crimes recorded by Police Scotland 20013-14 to 2018- 19.
|Rape & attempted rape||1808||1901||1809||1878||2255||2426|
|Gender of Victim & accused||2014- 15||2015- 16||2016- 17||2017- 18||2018- 19||2019- 20|
|Female victim male accused||39483||43158||42759||39864||39721||40803|
Figures published by Police Scotland show 64,193 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded between April 2020 and March 2021 – an increase of 57% from the previous year coinciding with coronavirus lockdown.
Facts relating to Violence and Against Women and Girls
1 in 10 women in Scotland have experienced rape.
1 in 5 women in Scotland have had someone try to force them to have sex against their will.
238% increase in other sexual crimes since 2010/11 including an increase from 5,763 in 2018-19 to 5,984 in 2019-20
The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2019-20 found that only 22% of rape victims and 12% of women who were victims of other sexual offences reported it to the police, so the true figures are much higher.
Refuge highlighted an 80% increase to their domestic abuse hotline whilst lockdown was in place.
112 women in Scotland were killed between 2009 to 2019 by their partners or ex partners, working out at 1 female death per month.
What Needs Done
Whilst Police Scotland may recognise a reported act as motivated by misogyny, but as sex is not included as a legal classification under the Hate Crime Act, they will be unable to charge the aggressor with a hate crime act.
Failure to include misogyny in the Hate Crime Act was a huge failure and went against all the available evidence. Since then whilst some hate crimes seem to have reduced violence against women and girls has increased. It’s time the Scottish Government acted to protect the section of our community who suffer most from hate crime. The working groups report must be accelerated, and the law amended to include all hate crime victims and especially those who suffer most.
BEAT THE CENSORS
Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.