Date lodged: 10 August 2016
To ask the Scottish Government, further to the answer to question S5W-01347 by Annabelle Ewing on 2 August 2016, what its position is on the number of people participating in the programmes, and what action it is taking to increase this.
Answered by: Annabelle Ewing 6 September 2016
The ability to refer those who have or who are likely to commit offences related to the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act nationwide is still new and these schemes inevitably take time to prove their worth. The initial number of referrals to the Sacro Anti-Sectarian Service diversion from prosecution programme does not undermine the validity of the scheme.
In recognition of the important role that education plays in tackling offensive and abusive behaviour, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has given a commitment to considering diversion schemes for individuals accused of offensive behaviour at football whenever possible, particularly those under 18 years of age. The Crown Office considers each case and decides based on the facts and circumstances of the offence and the accused whether to prosecute or refer to Sacro. I will meet shortly with the Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, to discuss how more suitable young people can be referred to this valuable scheme as a diversion from prosecution.