Scotland Police May Be Forced To Make Budget Cuts To Deal With Authoritarian Speech Complaints

By Dan Frieth – Reclaimthenet

Police Scotland is grappling with potential budgetary pressures and service reductions. David Threadgold of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has raised concerns about the financial impact of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act. According to him, the legislation has already led to an overload of calls, with over 6,000 logged since its enactment. This influx of reports, he fears, will necessitate cuts elsewhere in the police budget.

Threadgold’s worry centers on the unforeseen costs of handling these cases, particularly the overtime payments for control room staff. He believes these expenses will reverberate throughout the year, affecting other police services. Calum Steele, former general secretary of the SPF, echoes these concerns. As reported by The Scotsman, Steele criticized Police Scotland’s preparation for the Act, calling it “negligently unprepared” and pointing out that the additional costs were predictable.

The new authoritarian legislation has been criticized not only for its financial burden but also for its potential to stifle free speech. The Act consolidates existing hate crime laws and introduces a new offense of inciting hatred against protected characteristics. This broadening of the law has sparked fears about its impact on free speech and expression.

Critics, including Tory MSP Russell Findlay, have accused Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf of ignoring these concerns. Yousaf, for his part, maintains confidence in Police Scotland’s ability to manage these cases, emphasizing that the force is well-equipped and trained for this task.

The legislation’s impact extends beyond financial strains. The Act has resulted in a notable rise in the logging of non-crime hate incidents, incidents perceived as hateful but not necessarily criminal. This increase has prompted concerns about a potential inundation of trivial or malicious complaints, especially in the context of highly charged events like football matches. Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has already lodged a complaint over a tweet he posted being logged as a hate incident.

The Scottish government and Police Scotland maintain that they are adept at handling such cases. However, critics argue that the focus on these hate incidents diverts attention and resources from more serious crimes, potentially impacting the overall efficacy of law enforcement.

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