Police are targets for bigots’ abuse

Officers can find themselves victims of religious abuse.
Officers can find themselves victims of religious abuse.
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Falkirk took third place in the league of shame for religious hate crimes.

Figures issued by the Scottish Government show that in the period from 2010-2012, only Glasgow and North Lanarkshire council areas recorded higher figures.

The number of incidents appears to be on the increase, with 41 in 2011-12 compared to 30 in the previous 12 months.

A police spokeswoman said: “There are no areas of policing concern as there are no specific trends, other than the large increase of abuse towards police officers. That abuse has not always been directed at a person’s accent, but specifically as they are a person of authority and may have been fuelled by alcohol.”

The study is the most detailed to be carried out in Scotland since 2005 and showed that a third of cases are linked to football.

Across the country, most incidents (22.7 per cent) occurred in either a police car or police station, 7.6 per cent in a football stadium and 3.8 per cent in a pub or club.

Over half (51.3 per cent) of victims were police officers, with drink and drugs a factor in over 65 per cent of cases.

Unveiling the figures, Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “It is completely unacceptable for people to think that offensive religious or sectarian language, or verbal or physical attacks based purely on religious prejudice, have any place in 21st century Scotland. While it is concerning that the number of cases has risen, I hope that the increase does indicate people feel more confident about reporting the perpetrators.

“I fully support the law enforcement agencies in doing everything in their power to punish those who wrongly believe it is acceptable to behave in such a way on the basis of their own religious prejudices.

“But these figures show that as well as tough enforcement, we need to tackle the root causes of religious prejudice that sadly is all too prevalent in parts of Scottish society. That is why we are carrying out a range of actions to eradicate sectarianism.”