Police Scotland investigate and exonerate themselves over anti-Christian “Bigot” posters

18 December 2018

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Police Scotland investigated themselves over the publication of anti-Christian “bigot” hate crime posters and concluded in their response letter that the posters were not “based on malice or ill will towards any social group”.

A senior officer at Police Scotland has belatedly responded to a formal complaint made by Barnabas Fund about a “hate crime” poster campaign run by Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.

In early October Barnabas Fund made a formal complaint to Police Scotland about a poster campaign against hate crime. The posters, which were displayed in all Scottish cities, contained messages that implied Christian belief amounted to “hate”. One poster read:

One Scotland poster reads: “Dear Bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.”

“Dear Bigots, You can’t spread your religious hate here. End of Sermon. Yours Scotland”

The State-sponsored poster campaign carried the logos of Police Scotland and the Scottish Government on each of a series of posters apparently intended to tackle “hate crime” in the country. Barnabas Fund commented in the Sunday Times how the “Dear Bigots” poster risked stirring up anti-religious prejudice and had upset many Christians.

The letter replying to Barnabas Fund’s complaint arrived after 61 days instead of the normal 56 day maximum time period for responding. It included Police Scotland’s definition of hate crimes or incidents as being considered as such when “perceived by the victim” to be motivated by “malice and ill-will” towards a particular “social group”. But the responding officer, who investigated his own department’s actions and motivation in commissioning the posters, said in his letter that the posters were not intended to be prejudicial to any group, adding that no further action would be taken.

Barnabas Fund is disappointed that it took over 56 days for Police Scotland to respond to our complaint and an additional complaint to the Chief Constable was needed before a response was finally given. The response also failed to address the substance of our complaint, including the potential breach of international human rights by state advocacy of hostility against a religious group.

Barnabas Fund discussed concerns with Christians Together and Scottish MPs at a meeting at the Scottish Parliament last week and we are reviewing the possibility of taking our complaint further.

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