Racism down but still 15 incidents every day in Scotland

THE number of racist incidents in Scotland has fallen for the fourth successive year, official police figures released yesterday show.

There were 4,907 incidents recorded in 2010-11, a reduction of 8 per cent from 2006-7. But that still equals almost 15 every day.

Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham welcomed the decline but said there was no room for complacency.

However, more up-to-date figures published recently showed an increase in the number of charges reported for racist and other hate crimes in 2011-12.

The more recent Crown Office figures showed that the number of charges linked to racist crimes increased by 8 per cent from 4,178 to 4,518 in 2011-12, a six-year high.

The SNP government recently introduced new laws aimed at tackling online hate and sectarian singing at football.

The police statistics show that where ethnic origin of the victim was known, 24 per cent were Pakistani, while 46 per cent were of Asian origin, such as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese.

For cases in which age and gender was known in 2010-11, almost half (46 per cent) of the perpetrators of racist incidents were aged 20 or under.

Racist incidents most commonly occurred on Friday and Saturday nights, and a third of them took place in the street.

The Scottish Government has provided funding of almost £15 million for projects to address racism and bigotry over the next few years.

Ms Cunningham said: “We must continue with the work we are doing to tackle racism and hatred in all its forms whilst constantly looking at new ways of getting across the message to the next generation of young Scots.

“We need to say loud and clear that these outdated attitudes are not acceptable and never will be, whilst educating them about the importance of tolerance and respect.

“The fact that so many of these incidents are happening on Friday and Saturday nights underlines the importance of our efforts to tackle the booze culture which is damaging our communities.”

Labour justice spokesman, Lewis Macdonald said: “The very worrying thing about today’s figures is that when compared to last month’s hate crime figures, which showed an across-the-board increase in 2011-12 for all categories of hate crime, then something seems to be out of place.

“This could suggest that maybe more attention needs to be given towards empowering victims of racially motivated incidents to come forward to report such crimes.”