Dan Aldridge, Policy Manager at Stonewall Scotland, tells KaleidoScot how hate crime is still a problem in Scotland and what Stonewall Scotland, in partnership with other organisations, are doing to combat it.
In Scotland we often pride ourselves as being a nation built on the principles of tolerance and fairness. Unfortunately Stonewall Scotland research highlights that the lived experience of many LGBT people in Scotland is a very different story.
Hate crimes occur across our community, in all areas of Scotland with devastating effects on individuals, their families and friends, and they chip away at our hard fought confidence and resilience.
Despite efforts by Police Scotland and Community Safety Partnerships to improve confidence in reporting hate crimes, most victims don’t report abuse, and those who do often have low expectations of how the police will react. Many of those who engage with the criminal justice system also come away dissatisfied as so many crimes and incidents are reported but not followed up. For some, hate crimes happen so regularly that that it becomes part of their day-to-day existence.
Much of our work at Stonewall Scotland, such as our current No Bystanders and Rainbow Laces campaigns are highly visible examples of how we are working to challenge discrimination and harassment towards our diverse communities. But it is our research that shows us that our job is not done.
One of the challenges we face is how we perceive those who are supposed to keep us safe. More than two in five (42 per cent) LGBT people are not confident in Police Scotland’s ability to address homophobic and transphobic hate crime in their area. This rises to almost three in five trans people (57 per cent) and black and minority ethnic LGBT people (56 per cent), as well as more than half (52 per cent) of disabled LGBT people.
More than a third (36 per cent) of LGBT people would not feel confident reporting a homophobic or transphobic hate crime directly to the police. This increases further to more than two in five black and minority ethnic LGBT people (43 per cent) and disabled LGBT people (43 per cent). Where you live in Scotland also affects your confidence to report a hate crime to the police. LGBT people in the Highlands and Islands feel least confident in reporting a hate crime to the police, where more than two in five (45 per cent) would not feel confident.
To tackle hate in our communities, Stonewall Scotland has been working with Police Scotland and criminal justice partners to improve their understanding and increase awareness of hate crime, our new posters and guides to reporting hate crime have been sent out to all police stations and CABs across the country and we have been working hard to make sure that the recommendations in our research are implemented so all our communities, whoever you are and wherever you are in the country are safe and are free from discrimination and harassment. Real progress has been made both in tackling hate crimes in Scotland and in improving public confidence to report abuse but this research demonstrates starkly that there is still lots to do.
For more information about the work that we are doing, please visit www.stonewallscotland.org.uk
Dan Aldridge is Policy Manager at Stonewall Scotland. Dan leads on public sector engagement work with a particular focus on hate crime and health and social care. Dan also leads on all of Stonewall Scotland’s research and leadership development programmes.
Dan held previous roles at East Lothian Council and Newcastle City Council.