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Prevention and Eradication of Hate Crime and Prejudice

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th November 2016.

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Photo of Douglas Ross Douglas Ross Conservative

Thank you.

Dr Morrow and his group recommend that the Scottish Government should take the lead in developing a clearer definition of hate crime, which should be accompanied by greater public education. Parties all round the chamber can support those recommendations, and we will work collaboratively with our SNP colleagues and other members in those areas.

Ash Denham acknowledged that, in the intervening period since the EU referendum, incidents of hate crime in Scotland have not increased, which we welcome. It would be remiss of politicians to try to establish a direct link between incidents elsewhere and the referendum outcome, and the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and COPFS have repeatedly sounded cautionary notes about forming conclusions based on monthly fluctuations in the figures. However, we need to send a strong, unequivocal message that both non-British EU nationals and non-EU nationals living in Scotland are welcome here and that they should be afforded the same dignity and respect that they have always had. We heard that from Conservative members yesterday during the health debate, and I reiterate it today.

The cabinet secretary and Alex Cole-Hamilton delivered quotations as they concluded their speeches, so I will do the same. Martin Luther King said:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

There have been many positive contributions today. I hope that the consensus in the chamber sends a positive message to the people of Scotland that their Scottish Parliament sheds some light on the darkness of unacceptable hate crimes.