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More than 7,000 hate crimes logged in first week of new law, Police Scotland confirms | UK News

More than 7,000 complaints were reported to Police Scotland in the first week of new hate crime legislation coming into force.

From 1-7 April, the force received 7,152 online hate reports.

Of these, 240 were recorded as hate crimes – 3.3% of all reports – while 30 were logged as non-crime hate incidents, meaning they did not meet the threshold for a criminal offence.

Police Scotland said the vast majority of reports received during this period were anonymous.

These were assessed against the new legislation and no further action is being taken.

The force noted that two reports were raised in relation to alleged hate crime incidents linked to the Rangers and Celtic match on Sunday.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act came into force on 1 April and aims to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice, extending protections from abusive behaviour to people on grounds including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

The legislation does not include sex as a protected characteristic, as a standalone bill designed to tackle misogyny is expected to be put before the Scottish parliament at a later date.

Read more:
What are Scotland’s new hate crime laws, and why are they controversial?

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The new hate crime laws explained

Supporters of the new laws insist they will make Scotland more tolerant.

But Harry Potter author JK Rowling has publicly criticised the act, suggesting it erodes free speech as she dared police to arrest her if they believed her online comments were criminal.

Police Scotland later confirmed comments she made online were not recorded as a non-hate crime incident.

The Hate Monster. Pic: Police Scotland
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The ‘Hate Monster’ being used to advertise the new act. Pic: Police Scotland

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Campaigners gather outside the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh, to mark the introduction of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act. The act consolidates existing hate crime legislation and creates a new offence of stirring up hatred against protected characteristics. Picture date: Monday April 1, 2024.
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Protesters outside Holyrood last week. Pic: PA

A non-crime hate incident is recorded when a complaint does not meet the threshold for a crime but is perceived to be “motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group”, according to Police Scotland guidance.

In a summary released on Wednesday, the force said a total of 80.49% officers have completed training in regard to the new laws.

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A force spokesperson said: “This data highlights the substantial increase in the number of online hate reports being received since 1 April.

“This significant demand continues to be managed within our contact centres and so far the impact on frontline policing, our ability to answer calls and respond to those who need our help in communities across Scotland has been minimal.

“All complaints received are reviewed by officers, supported by dedicated hate crime advisers, and dealt with appropriately, whether that is being progressed for further assessment, or closed as they do not meet the criteria under the legislation.”

Labour attacks ‘abysmal’ figures showing just 5.7% of crimes solved last year | Politics News

Labour has called it a “national scandal” that only 5.7% of crimes were solved last year after 2.3 million cases were dropped without a suspect being found.

The Home Office figure for England and Wales covers the 12 months from April 2022 and is a small improvement on the year before.

The 5.7% represents the proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or court summons.

For sex offences, the charge rate was 3.6% – and just 2.1% for rape; while only 6.5% of robberies ended with a suspect being charged.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Labour would ensure more crimes are solved if it wins power, as well as making police forces recruit more detectives to reverse a national shortage.

She said candidates would be brought in from sectors such as child protection and business fraud investigations.

Ms Cooper accused the Tories of having an “abysmal” record on law and order as the figures showed more than 90% of crimes were going unsolved.

“For some serious crimes, like rape and robbery, the charge rate is now so low it constitutes a national scandal,” she said.

“For far too long in this country, too many crimes have been committed without any consequences. Victims increasingly feel like no-one comes and nothing is done. Labour is determined this has to change.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said communities were safer than when it came to power 13 years ago, with “neighbourhood crimes including burglary, robbery and theft down 51% and serious violent crime down 46%”.

“The government has delivered more police officers than ever in England and Wales and the home secretary expects police to improve public confidence by getting the basics right – catching more criminals and delivering justice for victims,” said the spokeswoman.

“As part of the Beating Crime Plan, we have also committed to giving every single person in England and Wales access to the police digitally through a national online platform.”

Read more:
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Police to drastically cut back on attending mental health callouts

Policing minister Chris Philp claimed Labour were “soft on crime and soft on criminals” and claimed “where Labour are in power, crime is over a third higher than Conservative-run areas”.

“Under the Conservatives, adult rape convictions have increased by two thirds over the last year, dangerous criminals are being locked up for longer, and there are now over 20,000 new police officers helping to keep our streets safe,” said Mr Philp.

Russians assaulted, threatened and abused in UK as hate crimes linked to Ukraine war surge | UK News

Russians in the UK have been subjected to violent assaults, threats and vandalism in the last year, as new figures suggest a surge in hate crime linked to the war in Ukraine.

A Sky News investigation has found details of dozens of race hate crimes against Russian nationals in Britain since 24 February 2022, the date Vladimir Putin began his invasion.

One large police force in England saw anti-Russian offences more than double in the last year compared to 2021, while a charity revealed that children of primary school age have been victims.

An expert has warned that the number of recorded offences is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg” as many go unreported, and the spike is expected to continue for the duration of the war.

Among the offences:

• An assault was reported on a building site in Derbyshire, where a worker told the victim: “I hate you Russians – you kill people,” before the attack started.

• Hertfordshire Police revealed details of a racially-aggravated assault where the victim was pushed to the floor at a crossing and told: “All Russians are murderers.”

• A suspicious white powder was sent to a London law firm, with a letter condemning its ties with Russia and containing “pro-Ukrainian content”.

• Devon and Cornwall Police said a victim was followed around a supermarket by someone “calling them names and threatening to kill them because they are Russian”.

Graffiti reading 'Kill Putin' was pictured on a wall in Slough in August. Pic: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock
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Graffiti reading ‘Kill Putin’ was painted on a wall in Slough. Pic: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock

• A woman, originally from Russia, living in North Wales was abused by a neighbour who said: “Why are you still here? F*** off home”. A note was also left on her postbox telling her to go home and the abuse was thought to be “connected with Russia’s offensive in Ukraine”, police said.

• In Dorset, paint was poured on the bonnet of a vehicle overnight – with the victim suspecting it was due to their Russian nationality.

• In Lancashire, a suspect repeatedly called a victim from a withheld number, and left a message saying: “Are you Russian c**ts? You still f*****g trading in the UK? You f*****g scumbags, (I’ll) come to your f*****g shop soon”.

• An “obscene word” was written on a woman’s car in North Wales, which the victim believed was “due to the mistaken belief that she was Russian”.

Anti-war graffiti on the gates of the Russian embassy in London in February 2022
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Graffiti was scrawled on the gates of the Russian embassy in London in February 2022

What does the data show?

The crimes were revealed after Sky News sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to the UK’s 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police (BTP).

Greater Manchester Police said 13 race hate crimes against Russian victims had been recorded since the invasion of Ukraine – up from six in 2021 and two in 2020.

Derbyshire Police has recorded four anti-Russian offences since 24 February 2022 – compared to zero crimes in 2021 – including assault causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage and racially aggravated harassment.

Cambridgeshire Police said it had seen seven race hate crimes against Russian victims since the war in Ukraine – the same number as in 2021 – including racially-aggravated common assault or beating and harassment.

Meanwhile, BTP have recorded three anti-Russian offences during the Ukraine war, having recorded none in 2021.

City of London, Dorset, Kent, Avon and Somerset, Hertfordshire and Lincolnshire police forces have also recorded race crimes against Russians since the conflict began.

The Metropolitan Police refused to answer Sky News’ FOI request, saying it would cost too much to retrieve the information. However, the force has previously revealed it recorded 16 hate crimes against Russian victims in the first two months of the war in Ukraine, compared to 22 offences across the whole year before the invasion.

Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during a meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) board in Moscow, Russia
Pic:AP
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Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has led to some police forces reporting a rise in anti-Russian hate crime. Pic: AP

In total, just 14 forces provided relevant data on race hate crimes or similar incidents targeting Russian people in the UK during the war in Ukraine.

The remaining forces either did not respond to Sky News, refused to provide the information on cost grounds or said they had no recorded anti-Russian offences.

Some forces admitted the nationality of victims was often not recorded for race hate crimes, with Avon and Somerset Police saying it appeared to have been completed “only 10% of the time”.

‘You Russian pigs’

Russian chef Alexei Zimin told Sky News that his London restaurant received threatening calls and had bookings cancelled in the early weeks of the invasion of Ukraine.

Despite being an opponent of the war, he revealed people had said: “You Russian pigs” and “you need to close your restaurant or we’ll do it”, and a police officer was once sent to their building over an apparent threat.

Mr Zimin’s restaurant Zima has donated about £30,000 to the Red Cross for Ukrainian refugees and his vocal anti-war stance has led to the cancellation of his cooking show on Russian TV.

He said he expected repercussions for voicing opposition to the war “because I know my country”.

Asked if he would feel safe returning to Russia, Mr Zimin replied: “I don’t know…. I don’t want to check.

“I haven’t been in Russia for more than a year.

“Most of my friends are now in different countries.”

Primary schoolchildren targeted

The charity Victim Support said it had seen a “flurry” of anti-Russian hate crimes in the early weeks of the war in Ukraine, including incidents of “hate-related bullying” in schools.

Some victims were of primary school age, it added.

Becca Rosenthal, hate crime operations manager at Victim Support, told Sky News: “Quite often with children and adults, it’s got that narrative of: ‘Go back home’.”

She said Victim Support had also seen cases involving “anti-Ukrainian rhetoric” and victims from other countries being targeted in the mistaken belief they are Russian.

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‘A lot of Russians support Ukraine’

‘Tip of the iceberg’

Mark Walters, professor of criminal law and criminology at the University of Sussex, said “trigger events” lead to increases in certain types of hate crimes.

“With Brexit, we had a big spike in racist hate crimes,” he told Sky News.

“With the pandemic, we saw a spike in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate crime.

“With the war in Ukraine, you’ll see there will be a spike in anti-Russian hate crimes… that will probably last as long as the war lasts.”

Prof Walters warned that hate crimes are under-reported, adding: “While I think the figures will definitely show there’s been a spike… I would have no doubt that will probably be just the tip of the iceberg.”

A Home Office spokesman told Sky News: “Hate crime is a scourge on communities across the country. It does not reflect the values of modern Britain.

“While the rise in cases is likely to be largely driven by improvements in police recording, these are serious crimes and we expect the police to fully investigate these hateful attacks and make sure the cowards who commit them feel the full force of the law.”

Metropolitan Police ‘truly sorry’ for David Carrick’s ‘cruel’ crimes as victims await justice at rapist’s sentencing | UK News

The Metropolitan Police has apologised to the victims of sacked PC David Carrick, as they wait to hear how one of the country’s most prolific sex offenders will be punished at a two-day sentencing hearing.

Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray has said she is “truly sorry” after the force let down the victims of Carrick, adding that “he should not have been a police officer.”

Carrick, 48, served as a Met officer for 20 years and was sacked from the force for gross misconduct after admitting 49 criminal charges – including 24 counts of rape over an 18-year period.

His sentencing hearing begins on Monday at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

‘We let them down’

Assistant Commissioner, Met Police - Barbara Gray
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Met Police Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray

Apologising to Carrick’s victims, Assistant Commissioner Gray said the Met has “let them down”.

She said the force had “failed to identify a man in the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Service who carried out the most awful offences”.

She added Carrick “should not have been a police officer”.

She also warned: “More detail will be provided about the cruel and abusive nature of his crimes and about the impact they have had on the tremendously brave women who came forward to provide evidence against him.”

Carrick has admitted to “the most appalling offences against women” and his sentencing needs to be about his victims as “they truly deserve to have their voices heard and see justice done”, the assistant commissioner said.

She added that the Met is “determined to root out those who corrupt our integrity”.

The attention on the Met after Carrick’s crimes came to light has seen the force speak out about its “genuine and urgent commitment to address systemic failings”, she added.

Read more:
David Carrick victim plans to sue Met Police for damages

Victim describes months of physical and mental abuse

‘Painful stories’

Last month, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said that two or three police officers are expected to appear in court each week to face criminal charges in the coming months as the scandal-hit force attempts to reform.

He told the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee that more “painful stories” will emerge as moves progress to remove hundreds of corrupt officers who are thought to be serving.

A new Met Police integrity hotline has received “tens of calls” a week, leading to new investigations, Sir Mark said, a third of which relate to other forces.

In the wake of Carrick’s conviction, around 1,000 previous cases involving Met officers and staff who were accused of sexual offences or domestic violence are being reviewed to make sure they were handled correctly.

This is expected to be completed by the end of March.

PC David Carrick
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Sacked PC David Carrick
Met Police integrity hotline has received 'tens of calls' a week, leading to new investigations.

Anti-corruption and abuse command ‘proactively investigating’

A new anti-corruption and abuse command is also proactively investigating and identifying officers and staff who abuse their positions of trust whether on duty or off duty, in person or online, the Met says.

A thorough audit of national police systems, specifically the Police National Computer and Police National Database, is also being undertaken to seek out intelligence and information about officers and staff that may not be known by the organisation.

All closed cases from the past decade where officers and staff were reported to the Directorate of Professional Standards for involvement in incidents – ranging from using inappropriate language in the workplace to allegations of the most serious sexual offending – are being reviewed.

The Met said it expects most cases should have been dealt with appropriately but it knows it has previously failed to identify patterns of behaviour and consider prior offending or incidents.

UK to train Ukrainian judges to carry out war crimes trials for Russian soldiers | World News

A group of 90 Ukrainian judges will undergo training, provided by the UK, to carry out war crimes trials for Russian soldiers.

The first group of judges attended sessions at a secret location in the region last week, and more will follow in the coming months, as part of a £2.5m investment.

In her first broadcast interview as Attorney General, Victoria Prentis told Sky News it would ensure perpetrators of atrocities can – at an unprecedented scale – be prosecuted while the conflict goes on.

The vast majority of war crimes trials are expected to be carried out in the country by Ukrainian judges.

So far, 14 Russian soldiers have been convicted, with the first trial carried out in May.

But a vast caseload of more than 43,000 reported crimes have already been registered.

“They are prosecuting war crimes in real time”, Ms Prentis said. “This is a live and very brutal conflict.

Ukraine is managing with all the difficulties that we know are going on in the country at the moment, with things like power and organising courts, to try war crimes.

“This is very important, obviously because justice is important, but also because I hope that those Russian soldiers and officers who are watching the Ukrainian prosecutions at the moment will realise that they must act in accordance with international law.

“These 90 judges will go back after some really intensive training, able better to run those courts.”

UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis
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UK Attorney General Victoria Prentis

Russia’s ‘Nuremberg’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenkyy and his wife Olena, who visited the UK this month, have been advocating for the establishment of a special tribunal for Ukraine, which they have compared to the Nuremberg trials, for the Russian leadership.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has already opened an investigation into the Ukraine war – but the Zelenskyys say a special tribunal alongside it could prosecute a wider range of crimes.

This has not been explicitly backed by the UK government, but Ms Prentis said all options are being considered, in discussions with the Ukrainian authorities.

Read more:
Divided loyalties and messy compromises for Ukrainian refugees

“I’m sure that the vast majority of these war crimes will be tried by Ukrainian judges in Ukraine, where the witnesses and the evidence are,” she said.

“But I’m also sure the international community will want to have a moment where justice is done, and seen to be done. We don’t yet know exactly what form that will take. All options are on the table.”

In her long career as a government lawyer before entering politics, Ms Prentis said: “I don’t think we ever anticipated we would have war crimes in Europe again and that we would have to start talking about Nuremberg-style trials.”

The judges’ training is run by Sir Howard Morrison, a British judge who worked at the International Criminal Court and on the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Sir Howard Morrison, British judge helping to train Ukrainian judges for war crimes
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Sir Howard Morrison says senior Russians being tried ‘cannot be ruled out’

He spoke to Sky News on his return from the region after the first three-day session.

Sky News teams have witnessed the work of mobile justice teams in the country, such as in Makariv, outside Kyiv, where officials say 130 bodies were found in April.

Sir Howard said: “War crimes bring an added dimension, particularly when you have mass graves.

“I’ve spent 25 years staring either literally or metaphorically into mass graves, and believe me it’s a very different exercise than a single body or a single victim.

“They [judges] are very much aware of the necessity to run these trials in accordance with internationally recognised standards.”

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Sir Howard was the judge at the trial of former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic and said it was the hope senior Russian leaders could eventually be put on trial – but it would take time and commitment.

He said: “I was told when I was at the ICT [tribunal for the former Yugoslavia], that we would never try Milosevic, Karadzic or Mladic, and we tried all three.

“So you don’t know how the political winds will change direction in the future. It may be a long, slow process, but you cannot entirely rule out the Russians, senior Russians, in politics or in the military could one day come before an international tribunal.”