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Thursday, October 27, 2016
Scotland: Cardinal asks Crown Office for sectarian statistics
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 Cardinal Keith O'Brien has written to Scotland's Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd QC asking him to reinstate the publication of a detailed analysis of offences aggravated by religious prejudice and expressing surprise that the Crown Office has not provided information on 'offences aggravated by religious prejudice' for the years 2004 and 2005. Section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 allowed for an offence to be proved to have been aggravated by religious prejudice. This was a recommendation of the Cross Party Working Group on Religious Hatred. The Working Group also recommended "the Crown Office should establish suitable methods to record the incidence of religious motivation in offences prosecuted and the outcome in each case In a letter to Scotland's top law officer, Cardinal O'Brien said: "In advance of the First minister's proposed 'Summit on Sectarianism.' I feel strongly that debate on this topic must be underpinned by empirical evidence. Accordingly, I would welcome your confirmation that the publication of a detailed analysis of these offences will resume in early course." The Cardinal added: "The initial analysis of these sectarianism statistics published by the Crown Office in November 2004 however preliminary and limited very usefully cast doubt on the widespread presumption that sectarianism in Scotland is little more than alcohol induced, post match revelry and hooliganism. Additionally and very worryingly, they showed that a Catholic is over six times more likely to be abused than a Protestant." Cardinal O'Brien concluded: "Without an ongoing commitment on the part of the prosecuting authorities to publish a detailed analysis of such offences we will have no way of quantifying the problem we face or determining whether or not it responds to initiatives aimed at eradicating it or the extent to which anti-sectarian initiatives are working. If 85% of sectarian attacks in 2004 were not related to football, it seems pointless to channel all our energies into an exclusive focus on football clubs. Equally if Catholics, as seems the case, are disproportionately attacked then special attention must be given to addressing the social and political climate which allows this to happen and listening to the views of the Catholic community." Source: SCMO
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