The number of racially motivated hate crimes is at its lowest level for 14 years but there has been a 51 per cent increase in offences against disabled people, new figures show.
Statistics published by the Scottish Government and the Crown Office show there were 3,249 racial hate crime charges in 2017/18, the lowest annual total since consistent figures became available in 2003/4.
The figure continues a downward trend since a peak of 4,547 charges reported to prosecutors in 2011/12.
The number of charges reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to disability rose 51 per cent to 284, the highest number since legislation creating the aggravation came into force in 2010.
It is thought this type of crime continues to be under-reported, with work underway to encourage victims to report incidents to the police.
The number of hate crimes related to the victim's sexuality also rose, up three per cent on the previous year to 1,112.
Community Safety Minister Annabelle Ewing said: “It’s reassuring to see more people are coming forward to report hate crime, and in particular disability hate crime. A significant amount of work has been done by Police Scotland, the Crown Office and community organisations over the past year to ensure this is happening.
“But I still believe this isn’t the full picture and remain concerned that crime motivated by prejudice is under-reported and would urge anyone who experiences it to ensure it’s reported properly."
Lord Advocate James Wolffe said: "Crime motivated by hatred is not only a wrong against the individual, but is an affront to our collective values as a community, creating division and fear. That is why we treat it so seriously and why we will continue to do so.
“It is encouraging that many victims of hate crime have the confidence to report this type of offending and we would encourage more to do so.
“People who live in Scotland, regardless of their personal or social circumstances, can be assured that they live in a just society and that they will be protected from crime – and in particular from hate crime.”