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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-04816: Gordon Lindhurst (Lothian)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 18 November 2016

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to curb the posting online of "hate tweets" in Scotland.

Answered by: Angela Constance 6 December 2016

The Scottish Government is committed to doing all that we can to prevent and eradicate hate crime and prejudice, and build community cohesion.

We are clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and we are committed to tackling all forms of crime motivated by prejudice.

Under Section 6 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 an offence is committed when a person communicates material which contains, or implies, a threat of serious violence or death against another person and the material communicated would cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm. An offence is also committed if the material is intended to stir up religiously-motivated hatred. The material communicated does not have to relate to football and applies to text, images, video and sound, communicated by any means (e.g. by post, the internet, leaflets). Unlike elsewhere in the UK, prior to the introduction of the legislation there was no specific offence in Scots law criminalising threats made with the intent of inciting religious hatred. This was an obvious gap and it was clear that legislation was required to address it.

Police Scotland will review and fully investigate all reports of hate incidents, including those that refer to online posting of “hate tweets” via social media platforms. Where a post is found to meet the criteria of being ‘grossly offensive’ in terms of Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 all efforts are made to trace the perpetrator with a view to bring them to justice, this would be recorded as a hate crime regardless of whether the perpetrator was identified or not. Where an incident is investigated and the post does not meet the criteria required under legislation the report would be recorded as a hate incident.