Scottish police receives more than 3,000 complaints in just 24 hours under new hate crime laws

Police Scotland has received more than 3,000 complaints since new hate crime laws were introduced north of the border on Monday.

Ex-general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation Callum Steele claimed around 3,800 cases were lodged over the previous 24 hours. However, Police Scotland were warned the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act could result in a surge of cases. First Minister Humza Yousaf oversaw the passage of the controversial legislation while serving as Justice Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s Government.

The legislation only came into force on Monday, with officers north of the border needing time to undergo training. David Kennedy, current general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “My feedback is there’s lots of complaints coming in. “It’s going to be a few weeks until we see how it’s affecting reporting mechanisms.”

The legislation means an offence takes place if a person communicates material or behaves in a manner that a “reasonable person would consider to be threatening or abusive”, with the intention of stirring up hatred based on the protected characteristics. It also extends to include offences around racist abuse to other grounds on the basis of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

However, an amendment to add sex to the list of protected characteristics was voted down when the legislation was being considered at Holyrood.

Rowling, who lives in the Scottish capital Edinburgh, later revealed she was “reassured” by the force’s announcement that her stance that trans women are really men was not criminal. The 58-year-old also sparked a row with trans TV personality India Willoughby after sharing an image of 10 high-profile trans people and ridiculing their claims to be women. Willoughby said: “JK Rowling has deliberately tweeted hateful transphobia – and Police Scotland instantly cave. “There was intent behind it. She insulted named individuals because they were trans. She did it to hurt, and will now do it even more.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, a Police Scotland spokesman said: “We have received complaints in relation to the social media post. “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.” Tory MSP Murdo Fraser also weighed in on the row as he prepares to take legal action against Police Scotland for posting a tweet comparing non-binary people with those who identify as cats.

The Mid Scotland & Fife MSP, whose post was recorded as a non-crime hate incident, said: “Presumably, in line with current policy, which I am challenging as unlawful, these complaints will now be recorded as non-crime hate incidents.”

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