10/06/16 SG stumbles about trying to relate them to football fans!
Below is the text of a press statement released by FAC this morning. We have just been told that Justice Minister Michael Mathieson is taking one for the team today – obviously Annabelle Ewing is too sharp to fall for that one! In saying that, he called his press conference at 9.30am so that the journos wouldn’t have time to study the new stats which were released at……9.30am!
By all accounts his main discussion was regarding the Cup Final. FAC has not been advised whether anyone present reminded him that assault was a crime before the Act and will still be a crime when the Act is repealed.
It is worth noting that during the 2015-16 season an estimated 2,059,219 citizens attended football matches in Scotland so that amounts to 0.01% arrests (not convictions) under Section 1 of the Act. The Cabinet Secretary’s repeated calls for punitive measures such as ‘strict liability’ is unsubstantiated by the Government’s own evidence base. Democrats and citizens of all political persuasion should take note and analyse subjectively the evidence available to them.
New Hate Crime Statistics released today ( http://www.copfs.gov.uk/publications/equality-and-diversity )
Fans Against Criminalisation notes the new statistics on charges released today by the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service. We note that charges (not convictions) under Section 1 of the Act (Offensive Behaviour at Football) for 2015-16 were 287 which is an increase from last year’s figures of 94 cases. We also note the following:
- 25% of these charges did not proceed to court
- 2% no action was taken
- The likelihood of conviction of those going to court at all is less than 32%
For Section 6 of the Act (Threatening Communications) the number charged is 7 bringing the total in the 49 months of the Act to 46 – a pitifully small number.
- We further note that the statistics contain for the first time an estimate of the number of charges relating to religion which could have been made under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 but which were made under the Offensive Behaviour Act. The number for 2015-16 is 50 and the total number for the 4 year period of the Act is estimated by COPFS to be 221. We look forward to hearing the Scottish Government’s comments on the effectiveness of their flag-ship, high-profile and extremely expensive “anti-sectarian” Act which appears to be, on the most positive interpretation, to be resulting in 17 convictions a year compared to the thousands convicted under the existing legislation.
- We note that in 2013 when the number of charges was 268 the then Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill said the ‘Act is working well’; in 2014 when the numbers charged were 206, Roseanna Cunningham, the then Community Safety Minister said she ‘welcomed the drop in charges’ and suggested that it showed that ‘strong action was being taken against a minority of football fans’; in 2015, when the numbers charged were 193, Paul Wheelhouse, the then Community Safety Ministers said ‘I believe the legislation is working. The evaluations, backed by the latest statistics out today, demonstrate that the Act has had a positive impact’. We look forward to hearing from the new Community Safety Minister, Annabelle Ewing her views on whether charges going up or charges going down is evidence that the Act is working.