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Hate Crime Legislation Review
This independent review was announced on 26 January 2017 by Annabelle Ewing, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs. The review is chaired by Lord Bracadale, a senior member of the judiciary.
The remit for this review is: To consider whether existing hate crime law represent the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice.
In particular, Lord Bracadale will consider and provide recommendations on:
Whether the current mix of statutory aggravations, common law powers and specific hate crime offences is the most appropriate criminal law approach to take;
Whether the scope of existing laws should be adjusted, including whether the religious statutory aggravation should be adjusted to reflect further aspects of religiously motivated offending;
Whether new categories of hate crime should be created for characteristics such as age and gender (which are not currently covered);
Whether existing legislation can be simplified, rationalised and harmonised in any way, such as through the introduction of a single consolidated hate crime act;
How any identified gaps, anomalies and inconsistencies can be addressed in a new legislative framework, ensuring this interacts effectively with other legislation guaranteeing human rights and equality.
Process of the Review
The Review will consist of evidence gathering, research, analysis and consultation. Lord Bracadale is supported by a secretariat and a reference group has been set up to provide expert advice, knowledge and understanding.
Stage one (January to June 2017)
The first stage of the Review will involve Lord Bracadale gathering evidence and information. Lord Bracadale is keen to better understand what people consider to be hate crime and how well the current criminal justice system deals with this. To do this he will invite information and experience from those who in one role or another have an involvement in applying the law and from individuals and communities affected by hate crime. They have prepared a short questionnaire to ask what you think hate crime means and how you have been affected by it. They will also review the relevant information currently available about hate crime in Scotland and consider where there are gaps in their knowledge and how they can fill these.
This preliminary fact finding will better inform the next stage of the review which will be the preparation and publication of their consultation paper to which anyone can respond. Through the consultation paper Lord Bracadale will explore what type of conduct the criminal law should be identifying as hate crime and whether the current set of offences adequately covers such conduct. The consultation exercise will be informed by an understanding of what happens in the community. Lord Bracadale will engage with a wide range of interested parties so that he can continue to hear views and experiences. He anticipates that that this will include meetings at various locations across the country.
Stage three (November/mid-December 2017)
Once the consultation period closes they will be analysing the consultation responses received and considering any further evidence they need to gather.
Stage four (December 2017 onwards)
Lord Bracadale will prepare his report based on the findings produced at all stages of the process. His report will be published in early 2018.
Throughout the process, the Review will engage with a wide range of interested parties such as:
Diversity, equality and community groups;
Victims of hate crime;
Those to whom existing hate crime legislation does not extend, for instance young people;