'People making hate crime complaints for political points'

An extra 40 officers a day are needed to deal with up to 8,000 calls logged in the last week, the Scottish Police Federation said.

The Scottish Police Federation said it is taking an extra 40 officers a day to deal with the response to the new hate crime laws, with up to 8,000 calls logged in the week since its introduction.

The Hate Crime and Public Order Act came into effect on April 1 and has attracted high-profile criticism with allegations against both JK Rowling and Humza Yousaf dismissed.

The law takes existing offences for stirring up hatred on the grounds of race and applies that to the protected characteristics of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or variations in sex characteristics.

Opposition politicians predicted a deluge of reports after the legislation came into force including “spurious and vexatious complaints”.

David Kennedy, the head of the organisation representing rank and file police officers, said: “Some people are not making complaints to the police under this legislation because they feel that they are victims of crime, they are doing so to make a political point or their own personal point, or simply, in one case, to protest against the current government.

“I would urge the public not to do that, because simply Police Scotland cannot cope with the demand and it will impact on our ability to deliver other policing services across the communities of Scotland.”

Justice secretary Angela Constance said it had been “a very lively first week” for the new law.

Incidents included JK Rowling’s social media posts criticising the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act while describing several trans women as men being reported to police.

Police found the Harry Potter author had committed no crime and also said it would not record a “non-crime hate incident” against her.

Comments made by the First Minister at Holyrood four years ago on diversity were also reported as an alleged hate crime but were deemed not to be criminal.

Yousaf – who was not FM at the time – pointed out the lack of non-white people in the top jobs across Scotland.

Ally McCoist questioned the new legislation and “guaranteed” that he and thousands of others would be “committing a breach” during Sunday’s Old Firm showdown at Ibrox.

The former Rangers player and manager then rolled back on the comments and said he would not be attending the match.

Police said a small number of alleged hate-related crimes during the Rangers v Celtic were being investigated.

“Police Scotland, who I have to once again express my thanks to, have of course been busier than they normally would be in relation to the reporting of hate crime,” Constance said.

“But, of course, our police service are well adept to adjusting to new bits of legislation.”

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