University of Ulster director to chair new hate crime advisory group
A leading academic who led a review into sectarianism has been tasked with heading a new group being set up to tackle hate crime.
The independent advisory group on hate crime, prejudice and community cohesion will be led by Dr Duncan Morrow from the University of Ulster.
Dr Morrow, the director of the university's school of criminology, politics and social policy, previously chaired a similar group which looked at how to address the problem of sectarianism.
He said that work had "highlighted an enormous desire for change among communities" which would help "us to tackle insidious social issues like hate crime in respectful ways".
He stated: " Hate crime and prejudice, regardless of whether this is violent or expressed through verbal comments and passive behaviours, has a corrosive and damaging effect on individuals and communities. It undermines community cohesion, isolates and alienates individuals and generates fear and mistrust of those who appear to be different from ourselves.
The creation of the new advisory group was announced as the Scottish Government held a summit looking at how to prevent and eradicate hate crime.
A new report, examining the evidence on how to reduce prejudice, was also published.
Community Safety Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: "The main purpose of the group is to provide evidenced findings and recommendations which the Scottish Government can take forward in partnership with communities to help eliminate hate crime for good."
He insisted: " There is absolutely no place for bigotry and prejudice in Scotland and this Government is clear that any form of hate crime is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated in 21st century Scotland.
"We have already invested more than £80 million since 2012 to advance equality and tackle discrimination and I am confident that progress is being made.
"The overall number of hate crimes reported in Scotland has fallen compared to last year's statistics, but we know that certain communities are less likely to report crimes of this nature. For our part, we remain absolutely committed to doing all we can as a Government to tackle inequality and create and support safer and stronger communities for all.
"That is why I am pleased to announce that we are establishing an independent advisory group on hate crime, prejudice and community cohesion and I am delighted that this group will be chaired by Dr Duncan Morrow, who I greatly respect."