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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Worrying statistics on antisemitic hate crime

15 June 2017

According to the statistics for religiously aggravated hate crime in Scotland1 released by the Scottish Government and Crown Office for the year 2016–17, there has been a significant increase overall in charges with a religious element, from 631 to 744, following on a small increase the previous year. However, this is still below the peak of 896 in 2011–12.

In contrast to last year, when the number of charges relating to Islam almost doubled and there was a reduction of 28% in the number of antisemitic hate crimes reported, this year the number of charges for anti-Muslim hate crime fell by 15%, while the number of charges for antisemitic conduct increased by 28%. Of these, half were for threatening or abusive behaviour, but there were no charges for assault, unlike last year when there were 9 (11%).

Overall, there was a 10% decrease in the number of charges for hate crime, and the total is 26% lower than the peak in 2011-12, but the picture is very mixed. Charges relating to disability fell by 6%, but those relating to sexual orientation rose by 5%; there was a 10% decrease in race crime, but the number of charges with a religious aggravation rose 14%, and charges under the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act rose by 32%.

number of
number of
size of community
(2011 census)
charges per
charges per
% change
+ 17.9%
 Protestant (CoS)
+ 26.9%
 Roman Catholic
+ 30.5%
– 14.9%
+ 27.8%

The table includes all offences with a religious aggravation, including those under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.


The table excludes a small number of charges offensive to Christianity in general or to other religions.


Commenting on the figures the Lord Advocate said:

"Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, who should be entitled to live free from violence and intimidation, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, and is particularly liable to create division and fear. It is vital that victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and I would like to assure anyone affected by hate crime that they live in a society in which law enforcement agencies will ensure any report is treated with the utmost seriousness."

The Communities and Equalities Secretary, Angela Constance, later confirmed that the Scottish Government would implement the recommendations of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, including a commitment to "adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism, and engage with stakeholders on how this translates into improved practice on the ground":

"In some cases, specific terminology exists that has been agreed internationally and which helps to better define these issues. One example is the definition of anti-Semitism which was agreed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in May 2016. We have already said that we find the definition to be helpful in describing manifestations of anti-Semitism. We will adopt the definition to inform our work in this area, and work with stakeholders to better understand how the definition translates into improved practice for tackling anti-Semitism."

Tackling Prejudice and Building Connected Communities – Scottish Government response to the report of the Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion

In a parliamentary exchange, Adam Tomkins MSP asked the Communities and Equalities Secretary:

"In 2015, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities published a report called What's Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland? I will read two quick quotations from that report.

"For the first time in 62 years I did not attend high holiday services this year due to my security concerns."

"I'm scared to tell people at work that I'm Jewish—I talk about going to church instead."

Figures that were released last week show that, since that 2015 report, both offensive conduct towards Jews and offensive communication about Jews have increased in Scotland. What, specifically, is the Scottish Government doing to address the on-going rise of anti-Semitism in Scotland?"

The Minister replied:

"I received a copy of the report that SCoJeC prepared in 2015 and I am very familiar with its content; indeed, I am very familiar with SCoJeC, which is an organisation that I have met on more than a few occasions across various portfolios. Charges for hate crime against Jews or Judaism are indeed up by 28 per cent. That is an increase from 18 to 23 charges. The figures remain very low; nonetheless, I accept that we must not be complacent and that there may well be underreporting."

"We looked at the definition of anti-Semitism very carefully. We spoke to a range of stakeholders and were persuaded coolly and calmly of the merits of the definition."

SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski said:

"It is obviously a matter of concern that the number of charges for antisemitic hate crime has returned to almost the peak that rang warning bells for the Scottish Government in 2014, especially at a time when hate crime in general is falling. It may be that this in part reflects better reporting, but that cannot explain the fact that Jewish people are nearly 30 times more likely than others to be targeted for their religion. We therefore welcome the Government's adoption of the recognised international definition and their commitment to consider how this can be used to achieve their own objective of a Scotland free of such hatred, and we look forward to progressing this work with them."




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