Hate crime law: Glasgow LGBT+ sex shop designated official reporting centre for controversial new laws

The decision to make the shop in the Merchant City an official reporting centre has been branded ‘sinister’

Police Scotland has been urged to drop an LGBT+ sex shop as an official reporting centre for Scotland’s new hate crime legislation after the outlet’s designation was described as “ill-thought” out.

The controversial Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which was passed back in March 2021, will come into force on April 1.

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This legislation makes it illegal to stir up hatred against protected characteristics, such as age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Luke and Jack outlet in Glasgow has been designated as a third party reporting centre by Police Scotland. Picture: Google MapsThe Luke and Jack outlet in Glasgow has been designated as a third party reporting centre by Police Scotland. Picture: Google Maps
The Luke and Jack outlet in Glasgow has been designated as a third party reporting centre by Police Scotland. Picture: Google Maps

To help members of the public report incidents of hate crime, Police Scotland has designated numerous sites as ‘third party reporting centres’, with most being based in community buildings such as citizens’ advice bureaux, housing associations, libraries and council buildings.

However, Police Scotland is coming under fire for listing an LGBT+ sex shop called Luke and Jack in Glasgow’s Merchant City as one of these sites.

Other venues listed as third party reporting centres include a mushroom farm in North Berwick, a demolished office block in West Dunbartonshire, and a salmon and trout wholesalers in Duns.

Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells said: “Serious questions must be asked as to who thought a sex shop was an appropriate setting to report a hate crime. The SNP’s act is flawed enough without asking people to relay their experiences in this sort of outlet in the heart of the city centre.

“Glaswegians will rightly be wondering what the thinking behind this decision. Police Scotland should drop this shop from their reporting centres as a matter of urgency.”

Drew Bigglestone and Ian Diamond, the co-founders of Luke and Jack, say they chose to become a third party reporting centre because they are committed to promoting a safe and inclusive community.

In a statement, they said: “We firmly believe that hate crimes have no place in our society, and we want to do our part in creating a welcoming environment for all.

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“We have been involved with the third party reporting network for 10 years now without any complaint, with our store team attending training by Police Scotland alongside other network members.

“We understand that some may disagree with the decision to include us, but we stand by it and firmly believe that it has always been the right thing to do.”

The pair say they understand not everyone understands what their business is, but say they are experienced in handling sensitive information after dealing with sex and sexuality for the past 14 years.

They have also invited Ms Wells to visit them to explain what they do for the LGBT+ community in Glasgow.

Susan Dalgety, a columnist for The Scotsman, said: “It’s obviously no coincidence that the controversial Hate Crime Bill is due to come into force on April Fools’ Day – this is beyond satire.

“There is something sinister about Police Scotland outsourcing reporting on this sensitive area to a network of ‘hate crime third party reporting centres’ to sex shops, LGBT+ charities and housing associations, among others.

“Feminist campaigners have argued that this legislation is flawed – this underlines their fears that it is ill-thought and will be impossible to police properly.”

Calum Steele, former general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said in a thread of posts on social media: “With literally hundreds of third party reporting vehicles available – inevitably each one with their own interpretative vagaries – that means data confidence will be nigh on impossible to be derived.

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“I suspect that within a very short period of time we will have ‘data’ suggesting Scotland to be one of the most ‘hateful’ countries on Earth. This Jackanory data will be used to justify an endless drive to deliver a Pygmalion utopia.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry shared Mr Steele’s comments on X, writing: “I share the concerns and I have many others about aspects of this new legislation, which I have no doubt will be weaponised against women exercising their right to freedom of speech.

“I’ve made my concerns known at the highest level.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said the force had used third party reporting centres for hate crime for a number of years.

The spokesman said officers would investigate every report received through these centres, adding: “In some cases, victims and witnesses of a hate crime may not feel comfortable approaching the police directly.

“Third party reporting centres provide them with a safe space to make a report, and we constantly review these alongside the Scottish Government. Any business or organisation can volunteer to be a third party reporting centre, and they reflect the diverse nature of our local communities. Staff are trained to ensure they can assist victims or witnesses.”

A government spokesman said: “As Police Scotland has said, victims and witnesses of a hate crime may not feel comfortable approaching the police directly.

“That is why third party reporting centres, which have been in place for a number of years, offer a safe alternative space to make a report.

“Our hate crime strategy commits to review third-party reporting arrangements in partnership with Police Scotland, which has already commenced.

“A short-life working group will re-evaluate the criteria of a third-party reporting centre, recording and maintenance of the scheme, and how to improve support for centres and victims.”