In our consultation on priorities for inspection during 2019-2020, hate crime emerged as an issue worthy of attention. At that time, a number of assessments and review anticipated that prejudice, division and hatred could increase across the UK due to the changing political and social environment and the increased prevalence of online abuse and intolerance.
In our Scrutiny Plan for 2019-2020 we committed to carrying out a review of the effectiveness and efficiency of Police Scotland’s response to hate crime and the Terms of Reference were published on January 2020.
This inspection was halted in March 2020 due the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and serving police officers on secondment to HMICS returned to Police Scotland. This included those leading on this inspection. In August 2020 the inspection recommenced with a revised approach commensurate with safe working practices and included the development of an online survey to capture user experience.
Issues of diversity and equality are important at any time, but have been amplified over the past year by the unequal impact of COVID-19 on different groups, and by an increase in protests around the world about racism in society.
Our review highlights that the nature and scale of hate crime in Scotland is not currently understood by Police Scotland and recognises general under reporting and difficulties with current third party reporting arrangements. The inspection focused on the standard of police investigations, procedures, policies and initiatives in place to engage with communities to ensure victims of hate have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences.
In this report, several areas for improvement are identified and 15 recommendations are made. HMICS is aware that Police Scotland has already started work to address many of the issues raised.
Police Scotland should review the profile of hate crime in strategies and plans, given that it is not currently identified as a standalone strategic priority for the force
Police Scotland should ensure the national policy direction for hate crime links up with the local delivery and response to hate crime
Police Scotland should consider establishing a dedicated unit for hate crime
The Scottish Police Authority should consider how to improve its scrutiny of Police Scotland’s response to hate crime
Police Scotland should ensure that it maximises the benefits of strong partnership relationships, and shares the knowledge of diversity issues developed by police officers and staff working in Safer Communities roles at national and local levels
Police Scotland should accelerate its work with partners to improve the Third Party Reporting arrangements, providing people with the option to report hate crime without speaking directly to the police
Police Scotland should ensure there is transparency of decision making about the themes chosen for national hate crime campaigns, and that there are processes in place to evaluate the impact of campaigns on communities and reporting levels of hate crime
Police Scotland should review hate crime national documents to ensure there is clear accessible guidance for officers and staff responding to and recording hate crime
Police Scotland should provide clear guidance to police officers about the importance of submitting intelligence logs relating to hate crime and hate incidents
Police Scotland should review its use of the data held on IT systems to build knowledge and understanding of trends in hate crime and the impact on affected communities
Police Scotland should consider good practice elsewhere to improve its response to hate crime. The Scottish Police Authority should use information about good practice elsewhere to ask more effective questions of Police Scotland about its response to hate crime
Police Scotland should review and revise hate crime training at all levels as a matter of urgency
Police Scotland should review its approach to dealing with hate crime experienced by police officers and staff on duty and providing effective support. Data should be collected to identify the volume, nature and extent of hate crime perpetrated against police officers and staff
Police Scotland should review the role, remit, training and deployment of Hate Crime Champions and Hate Crime Advisors
Police Scotland should ensure that knowledge of hate crime and diversity is included in its consideration of the necessary skillset for planned cybercrime investigators.