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Tory MSP Writes to Police Scotland Chief Over ‘Non-crime Hate Incident’ Row

Murdo Fraser, Member of Scottish Parliament (Credits: The Times)

Murdo Fraser, a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), has raised concerns about Police Scotland’s handling of social media posts, particularly how they categorized a post he made as a “non-crime hate incident.”

Fraser’s criticism stems from what he perceives as a lack of consistency in how the police treat similar incidents involving public figures like Humza Yousaf and JK Rowling.

He has called for transparency from the police regarding their policies on recording non-crime hate incidents and has expressed suspicions of political bias influencing their decisions.

Murdo Fraser, Member of Scottish Parliament (Credits: The Scottish Sun)

The controversy arose when Police Scotland confirmed that a series of tweets by JK Rowling, made as the new Hate Crime Act took effect, were not considered criminal or logged as hate incidents.

Rowling had made statements regarding transgender women, challenging the police to arrest her under the new hate crime legislation if they believed she had committed an offense.

Similarly, complaints had been lodged against Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s First Minister, regarding a 2020 speech he gave about ethnic minorities in positions of power.

Fraser’s contention lies in the perceived disparity in how these incidents were handled compared to his experience. He believes that Police Scotland’s decision not to record non-crime hate incidents involving Yousaf and Rowling raises serious questions about their policies and potential biases.

He has formally written to Jo Farrell, the chief constable, to clarify whether their recording policy for such incidents has changed and who made that decision.

Member of Scottish Parliament, Murdo Fraser (Credits: miandeirip)

The concept of a non-crime hate incident, as per Police Scotland’s guidance, involves incidents that do not meet the threshold for a crime but are perceived as motivated by malice and ill-will toward a social group.

This concept predates the new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which introduces new offenses related to stirring up hatred against protected characteristics like age, sexual orientation, and transgender identity.

Fraser’s own experience with a non-crime hate incident stemmed from a tweet where he likened identifying as non-binary to identifying as a cat. In his view, this incident highlighted the subjective nature of categorizing such incidents and raised questions about consistency in enforcement.

James Chalmers, a legal expert, pointed out the need for clarity in how the police handle accusations of non-crime hate incidents, especially given the policy changes observed in other jurisdictions like England and Wales.

While these incidents may not constitute criminal offenses, he noted that individuals deserve clarity on how law enforcement agencies may deal with complaints against them.

Despite everything, the situation underscores the complexities and challenges faced by law enforcement in finding social media-related incidents, especially those involving sensitive topics like hate speech and discrimination.

The call for transparency and consistency in policies regarding non-crime hate incidents reflects broader concerns about ensuring fairness and accountability in applying the law.

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