CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

For what you believe
Open menu Close menu

Former Senior Judge: Hate Crime Act is 'unworkable'

Freedom of Speech
11 April 2024
Police officers in high-viz jackets policing a demonstration

The man who was formerly Scotland's most senior judge has blasted the Scottish Government's controversial Hate Crime Act, labelling it 'unworkable'.

Lord Hope of Craighead is also a former deputy president of the Supreme Court and he has accused ministers in Scotland of 'gesture politics'.

Since the Act came into force on 1 April (April's Fool's Day), Police Scotland have received a deluge of 8,000 complaints.

A mere 3% of these complaints were crimes, according to the force.

Lord Hope warned that the name of the Act gives the misleading impression that all forms of hate have been criminalised.

Hate crime is a most unfortunate name for the Bill. It raises all sorts of thoughts in people's minds, without any idea of what the Bill is actually saying. I have no complaint with the intention of the Bill. But it has misfired because it uses a very provocative title that leads people to think there's more in it than there really is, when you read through the detail.
Lord Hope Former top judge in Scotland

He went on to describe the legislation as 'unworkable' and said the police will end up wading through misleading complaints by people who are ignorant of the details of the law.

The effect of this ignorance would be an 'extraordinary burden' on Police Scotland because it is obliged to create records for each reported offence.

The gesture politics here has meant sending out a message that has been misunderstood by people who don't grasp the qualifications and protections contained in the act, and that is causing problems for the police.
Lord Hope

The Hate Crime Act consolidated existing laws and also introduced a new offence of 'stirring up hatred' against people with protected characteristics, including trans-people, cross-dressers, people with disabilities and the elderly.

When the legislation was going through the Scottish Parliament, CARE for Scotland warned that the law would place a fresh administrative burden on Police Scotland, as well as being manipulated by some to make false complaints.

Receive news from CARE each week

By signing up stay in touch you agree to receive emails from CARE. You can change your mailing preferences at any time either by getting in touch with CARE, or through the links on any of our emails.

Recent news in Freedom of Speech

Microsoft Teams image 18

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and expression are vital, democratic liberties. As Christians, we should uphold them for the benefit of all people.

Find out more about the cause