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FMQs: Hate Crime Act ‘set to be a shambles’

The Hate Crime Act is “set to follow the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and be another bad SNP law that descends into shambles from day one”, according to the Scottish Conservatives.

At First Minister’s Questions, Douglas Ross said the law could criminalise free speech and “lead to huge numbers of the public being monitored or criminalised by the police when they’ve done nothing wrong”.

The Scottish Conservative leader highlighted that police officers are being told not to investigate actual crimes but must now investigate free speech.

He quoted the Scottish Police Federation who said this week the Hate Crime Act looks like “a recipe for disaster”.

Roddy Dunlop, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said there is a danger of the police being swamped by “completely malicious” complaints.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “In just 11 days’ time, the police will have to enforce an unworkable and dangerous law.

“Officers have had just a few hours training for a very complex and controversial law.

“Officers are being told not to investigate actual crimes, but instead they’ll have to look for the Hate Monster and police free speech. Criminals will be let off, while innocent people are prosecuted.

“Humza Yousaf is setting the police up for failure and undermining public trust in policing. He is putting frontline officers in an impossible position by forcing them to police free speech.

“Huge numbers of the public could be monitored by the police – or even criminalised – when they’ve done nothing wrong.

“Humza Yousaf introduced this unworkable and dangerous law when he was justice secretary. Now he’s bringing it into force as First Minister with little training and not enough support for our officers.

We’ve said from the outset this law is a disaster in the making. It criminalises free speech. It risks a fundamental right.

It’s overreach by the SNP into people’s homes. It could result in the public being criminalised for no good reason. It’s set to be a shambles from day one.

“Humza Yousaf has created another bad SNP law that will quickly descend into chaos.”