Number of religious aggravated offences hits 40-year low

The number of religiously-aggravated offences in Scotland has hit a 40-year low, the Government said.

Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The experience of Irish communities has improved considerably in recent decades, according to a group of British and Irish parliamentarians.

Religious intolerance led to 763 hate crimes during the last year, Police Scotland said. Of these, 299 were motivated by anti-Catholic prejudice.

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A British Irish Parliamentary Assembly report said: “The evidence we heard was that the experience of Irish communities had improved considerably in recent decades and that such negative experiences were becoming rarer.

“Indeed they stood in marked contrast with some of the successes of recent times.”

Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Paul Wheelhouse, told the Assembly statistics for religiously-aggravated offences were at their lowest level since 1974-5.

Of 7,423 cases of ethnically-related hate crime over the last year, 174 (2.3 per cent) were seen as anti-Irish.

The report said a sizeable proportion of the Scottish population shared an affinity with Ireland through history, culture and family ties.

“Whilst the historical experience of discrimination and disadvantage must not be forgotten, and must be tackled wherever it remains, we are pleased to hear that such experiences are becoming rarer as time goes by.

“Irish communities, however they are defined, contribute greatly to the rich diversity of Scottish life in the 21st century and will continue to do so in the future.”