With at least 18 hate crimes a day, and only 38% of racist attacks in Scotland actually reported to the Police, there doesn’t seem much room for consolation in the Scottish Government’s claim they are winning the battle … (yes, admitted, we need some improvements on attitudes – Ed)
The Scotsman reports :
Published Date: 01 April 2009
By Michael Howie
Home Affairs Correspondent
CAMPAIGNERS yesterday claimed Scotland was "well advanced" in the fight against racism as new figures showed the number of racist incidents recorded by police had fallen for the first time in four years.
But with 5,243 racist incidents recorded in 2008 – that is only marginally lower than the previous year's 5,321 – Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, said efforts to tackle the scourge had to be stepped up.
The figures published by the Scottish Government yesterday showed a slight rise in the number of racist crimes, from 6,653 to 6,672 – or 18 a day.
Officials said 95 per cent of the incidents involved one or more crimes being recorded.
About half the victims were of Asian origin, mostly Pakistani.
About 95 per cent of the perpetrators were white, where the information was known.
Racist incidents are defined as those "perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person". After police inquiries into such an incident, it may be deemed that a racist crime – or crimes – took place.
The head of one of Scotland's biggest minority ethnic support groups welcomed the figures but criticised the lack of information about how many racist crimes ended in conviction.
Rami Ousta, chief executive of Bemis (Black and Ethnic Minority Infrastructure in Scotland), said: "We can confirm and share with various ethnic minority groups (the view] that the race equality situation and the whole civic context of ethnic minorities in Scotland is well advanced compared to other countries.
"Some ethnic minorities do not like to hear this, but it is a fact and we have to seek to support and develop rather than attack."
He added: "As for the police figures ... we would welcome some statistics that can reveal the outcome of how the police have been dealing with these crimes."
Mr MacAskill said the reduction came at a time when overall crime was at a 25-year low.
"Although any decrease is to be welcomed, this shows that we need to step up the work going on to transform attitudes and change behaviour," said the minister. "We need to be ever vigilant and ensure that all our communities are protected."
He said the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill would require courts to record how racial or religious aggravation had affected any sentence. "We cannot be complacent and we must continue with the work we are doing to tackle racism in all its forms. The Scottish Government will not tolerate racist behaviour of any kind."
Labour welcomed the drop in incidents but highlighted a "huge" rise in attacks on white immigrants. While incidents involving "white British" victims had gone up marginally, those involving "other white" victims had tripled from 124 to 476, it said.
Labour's justice spokesman, Richard Baker, said: "Attacks against 'other-white' victims have tripled in the last two years and this is of very deep concern."
Tories said the overall figures meant a racist crime was committed in Scotland every 79 minutes and urged the government to mount "the strongest possible assault" on racism.
Bill Aitken, the Tory justice spokesman, said: "It is sad proof of people out there who will not grow up and leave past attitudes behind."
Liberal Democrat spokesman Robert Brown said a recent survey found only 38 per cent of racist incidents were reported to police. "Although the overall number of racist incidents recorded by the police has dropped, this year the scale of the problem is almost certainly much greater than suggested by official figures," he said.
Here’s the Scottish Government’s Press Release :
New figures published today by the Scottish Government show that there was a one per cent decrease last year in the number of racist incidents reported to the police in Scotland.
Commenting on the figures, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"Overall crime in Scotland is at a 25 year low. These latest figures show a small reduction in the number of racist incidents in Scotland.
"Although any decrease is to be welcomed, this shows that we need to step up the work going on to transform attitudes and change behaviour.
"We need to be ever vigilant and ensure that all our communities are protected. In the year of homecoming we need to remember we are all Jock Tamsons bairns - we're all equal, where ever we went to and wherever we have come from. The law will protect everyone irrespective of class, creed or colour.
"Along with tough enforcement of the law, with record numbers of police officers on our streets, community engagement and education and awareness raising are driving home the message that there is no place for racism of any kind in Scotland.
"Our Criminal Justice and Licensing bill will require the courts for the first time to record how racial or religious aggravation has affected any sentence. This will help give us a clearer picture of the number of crimes that have a racist element.
"We cannot be complacent and we must continue with the work we are doing to tackle racism in all its forms.
"The Scottish Government will not tolerate racist behaviour of any kind, whether on the street, at or around a football match or in a pub.
"Our migrant communities are as much part of the threads of Scotland's tartan as the rest of us. They contribute so much to this nation and we want to send out a message that we value them.
"We want Scotland to be a country where all our citizens can live free from fear and discrimination."