Hate crime continues to rise in Scotland, with racist incidents making up the majority of those reported, according to official statistics.
Figures published by Police Scotland show that between April and December last year, reported hate crimes (5375) were up by 5.5% on the five-year average (5096) and slightly higher than the year before (5365).
Race-related hate made up the majority of hate crime reported at just under 60% of the total.
Meanwhile, those reporting they were targeted because of their sexual orientation accounted for over 22% of reports.
The figures also showed that in 2021/22, there were 118 reports of hate based on someone identifying as transgender, an increase of 81.5% from the 65 reports made in 2020/21.
A national campaign is set to be launched by Police Scotland to encourage both victims and bystanders to recognise what hate crime is.
Hate crime is defined as a crime which is perceived by the victim, or anyone else, as being motivated by malice or ill-will towards a social group.
It can be a physical assault or a verbal attack, a one-off incident or a prolonged series of situations.
Chief Superintendent Linda Jones insisted that everyone has a right to live “without fear of prejudice”.
“Targeting anyone because of who they are is deplorable. Hate crime should have no place in society and will not be tolerated,” she said.
“Hate crime can leave people feeling isolated, spread through their family and into the wider community and create pockets of people who may feel unwelcome or rejected.
“Everyone has a right to live safely as their true and authentic selves, without fear of prejudice.
“We understand it can be hard for people to report a hate crime, and in some cases to even recognise or acknowledge that they have been a victim.”
Jones explained that every complaint is “professionally and thoroughly investigated”.
She continued: “Some people have been exposed to hate crimes for weeks, months or even years before they are able to report.
“Every complaint is professionally and thoroughly investigated and we treat people who bravely come forward with sensitivity, respect and dignity.
“We also offer further support to victims of crime through referrals to a number of partners.”