Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 195 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 Hate crime 4.367 The paragraphs below should be read alongside sections in this Part of the Guidance concerning child protection in the digital environment, bullying and harmful behaviours by children. 4.368 Definition. Hate crime is the term used to describe behaviour which is both criminal and rooted in prejudice. Hate crime can be verbal or physical and can be online or face- to-face. It has hugely damaging effects on the victims, their families and communities. Current hate crime legislation in Scotland allows any existing offence to be aggravated by prejudice in respect of one or more of the protected characteristics of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity. Prejudice or hostility also lies at the heart of some other offences which are recognised as hate crimes. These include racially aggravated harassment and stirring up of racial hatred. The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 (which received Royal Assent on 23 April 2021) consolidates, modernises and extends hate crime legislation in Scotland. It adds age as an additional characteristic and creates a new offence of ‘stirring up of hatred’, that will apply in relation to all protected groups protected by current hate crime laws (section 4). The Act includes a regulation-making power to enable the characteristic of ‘sex’ to be added to the lists of protected characteristics by regulations at a later date (section 12). 4.369 Impact. The effects of hate crime can be emotional or physical and may impact on children’s sense of security, identity and emotional wellbeing. Children who are victims of hate crime may experience high levels of anxiety, difficulty sleeping and potentially, suicidal feelings. 4.370 Prevention. Prejudice is learned from a young age. Therefore, children who have caused harm may not understand the consequences of their behaviour or the harm caused. There are many initiatives within Scottish schools to address prejudice-based bullying and hate crime (EHRC, 2017). It is likely to be an important facet of preventative, educational and rehabilitative action that offenders are given an opportunity to understand what a hate crime is and the impact that it has on individuals, families and communities. 4.371 Response. Support should seek to prevent the criminalising of children and young people wherever possible, unless in the public interest. However, adults, children and young people can seek appropriate advice from Police Scotland if they feel a crime may have taken place. Age of Criminal Responsibility (ACRA) legislation can be utilised by Police Scotland if appropriate. 4.372 Anyone who has experienced or witnessed a hate crime should be encouraged to report it directly to the police, a trusted adult or by using a third-party reporting centre. Third-party reporting allows victims and witnesses to report an incident without contacting the police directly. There are third-party reporting centres across Scotland, ranging from housing associations to victim support offices and voluntary groups, where specially trained staff provide support and assistance in submitting a report to the police. Find your nearest Third Party Reporting Centre. Police response will include the consideration of the need for an inter-agency referral discussion, taking in to account the impact, circumstances and protective and support needs of those involved. 4.373 Hate crime is often not reported to the police. Tackling under-reporting of hate crime and initiatives to deter people from committing hate crime remain key priorities for the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and COPFS. Scottish Government has committed to modernising the current law on hate crime, and will introduce a consolidated hate crime bill. Resources and References – Hate crime