Jewish community feels '˜more vulnerable' under Police Scotland

The organisation representing Scotland's Jewish communities says its members feel less protected against anti-Semitic attacks since the formation of the national police force.

The report highlights a feeling of vulnerability among the Scottish Jewish community since Police Scotland was established in 2013. Picture: John Devlin

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) said Jews felt their safety was “not a priority” for Police Scotland and that the “reassurance” offered under legacy forces had disappeared.

It said collaboration between the police and Jewish communities had become “less effective” since the formation of the national force in 2013, causing many to feel “more anxious and vulnerable”.

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The warning came in the group’s submission to a Scottish Government consultation on police priorities.

SCoJeC said that following an “upsurge” in anti-Semitic incidents in 2014 it had maintained close contact with senior police officers amid the “unprecedented level of fear and apprehension” being felt by Scotland’s Jews.

But it said the leaders of communities in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow had independently complained of losing the reassurance of named police officers since the formation of Police Scotland in 2013.

One figure who responded to SCoJeC’s What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland report said: “Before Police Scotland came into being we always had extra visits from our local bobby to ask how things were in times of heightened tensions and to say they were doing extra patrols. There is much less of a sense of local community since Police Scotland came into being.”

The Community Security Trust, a charity which works with the police to provide security for Jews across the UK, has previously described Scotland as the “best country in Europe” for information-sharing between the police and the Jewish community. But SCoJeC said that relationship had deteriorated since the creation of Police Scotland.

Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw, whose Eastwood constituency is home to many of Scotland’s Jews, said: “While anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland continue to be limited, it remains equally as important that the Jewish community feel safe and perceptions of religious hatred really count.”

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Johnson said: “Police Scotland treats all forms of hate crime seriously and works closely with local communities. We have regular and productive interaction with Jewish communities across Scotland in order to understand their concerns.”