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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Racist crimes jump in Scotland
Racism poster
The report suggests an increase in racist crime
The number of racist crimes in Scotland has risen sharply, according to a new report.

The Scottish Executive report follows the introduction of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Racist incidents recorded in police forces' annual reports showed crimes increased steadily during the 1990s and there has been a marked increase in the past two years.

Scotland's Justice Minister Jim Wallace said racist crimes had no place in society.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, pledged that the prosecution service would press on with its "vigorous dealings" with racist crimes.

Justice Minister Jim Wallace
Jim Wallace: "Racist crime will not be tolerated"

The executive said a recent change in the law meant all crimes with a racially aggravated element must now be recorded separately.

The report identified measures already taken by the police and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to tackle racist violence.

The act introduced two new offences of racially aggravated crime into Scots law and gave the courts power to increase sentences.

The report's key findings include:

  • Some 450 cases involving racist offences were processed in Scottish courts during 1999 and 2000

  • During the same period 45 such cases involving young people aged between nine and 16 went to children's hearings, while 161 cases reached the children's reporter

  • The most common type of incident reported to minority ethnic organisations involved verbal abuse and threats

  • The need for a distinction between racist crimes and racist incidents should be made clear to the public and to complainers

  • A standard definition of racist incidents and crimes and a standard format for recording them should be developed and used by all Scottish police forces

  • Routine feedback to victims of crime should be given a higher priority by the procurator fiscal service.

In addition, the report details ways in which the criminal justice system can improve on the work carried out by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Steering Group.

Mr Wallace said it was paramount that racist crime was tackled in Scottish society.

"This report shows the vigorous response being taken by the police and criminal justice agencies to tackle the problem of racial violence and harassment," the minister said.

"Racist attacks on individuals, organisations, premises or groups have no place in Scotland today.

Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC
Colin Boyd: "Vigorous stance"

"We have repeatedly made clear that racially-motivated crime will not be tolerated and that the police are fully prepared and ready to respond."

Scotland's Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC, the country's senior law officer, reaffirmed the prosecution service's determination to tackle racist crime.

"Scotland is not free from racism or racist crime," Mr Boyd said.

"Scotland's prosecutors are committed to a vigorous anti-racist stance and to the prosecution of racist crime.

"The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will consider with care the recommendations made in the report to ascertain where further action is necessary.

"I have asked the Solicitor General, Mrs Elish Angiolini QC, who chairs the department's Race Strategy Group, to oversee the progress of this essential work."

See also:

21 Aug 01 | Scotland
Minister condemns 'shame' of racism
21 Feb 01 | Scotland
Stars team up to beat racism
11 Jan 01 | Scotland
Police given mixed report on racism
03 Dec 00 | Scotland
Minister's racism warning
14 Mar 00 | Scotland
Police launch racism strategy
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