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Hate crime law could damage trust in police - chief

Chief Police Superintendent Rob Hay has expressed concerns that the new hate crime laws in Scotland, which become effective on Monday, may undermine public trust in the police.
Hay, from the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, warned that individuals might be upset if they're reported under the new law and their information is recorded without a crime being committed. He highlighted the lack of additional resources for the police to handle these cases.

The Scottish government has introduced the Hate and Public Order (Scotland) Act, aiming to prosecute threatening or abusive actions intended to incite hatred based on characteristics like age, disability, and gender identity.

This law adds to an existing race-based hate crime law from 1986. Despite concerns, the government ensures that the law includes protections for free speech and that police have received thorough training for its enforcement.

Police Scotland has committed to investigating complaints without proactively searching for violations. However, they will record details even when actions do not meet the criminal threshold, which has raised concerns about public trust.

Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser recently critiqued the police for logging a non-criminal hate incident based on his social media comments, highlighting tensions regarding the law's application.

Amidst worries about targeting performers with the new law, Chief Superintendent Hay clarified that the police would not actively pursue artists and that their focus would be on responding to public reports.

Police Scotland's Chief Constable Jo Farrell emphasized that the force is familiar with implementing new laws and that officers are trained to apply legislation judiciously, balancing it with human rights.

The Scottish government reassured that the law sets a high bar for hate crime offenses and that ongoing collaboration with Police Scotland includes comprehensive training and guidance for effective law enforcement.
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