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Humza Yousaf’s Hate Crime Act ‘sadly no April Fool’

Humza Yousaf’s Hate Crime Act is “no joke for the people of Scotland” as it comes into force on April Fools' Day, the Scottish Conservatives have said today.

Shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay made the remarks as the legislation is officially enforced from today (Monday 1 April), three years after it was passed at Holyrood.

The Scottish Conservatives were the only party to vote against it in 2021 and warned that it would threaten the right to free speech.

Senior police officers have warned that activists could ‘weaponise’ the legislation while the Scottish Police Federation – who represent rank-and-file officers – revealed that not all officers have been trained in the law.

Fellow Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser discovered that Police Scotland had secretly recorded a hate incident against him in relation to a social media post, despite no crime being committed.

The Scottish Conservatives say that the Hate Crime Act should be binned and resources diverted towards frontline policing.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay MSP said: “Humza Yousaf’s Hate Crime Act comes into force on April Fools' Day but it is really no joke for the people of Scotland.

“Three years after the law was passed, Scotland's most senior police officers have been forced to voice serious concerns, not least that it will be 'weaponised' by activists.

"It's also farcical that many officers have not yet been trained and the Scottish Parliament's criminal justice committee has not been given sight of Police Scotland training material despite requesting it.

“What happened to my MSP colleague Murdo Fraser is sinister and unacceptable and the concern is that other innocent people will end up in secret police files. No matter how these cases are dealt with by police and prosecutors, the law in itself will have a chilling effect on free speech.

“Officer would rather tackle real crimes and keep communities safe, rather than having to investigate malicious and spurious complaints.

“Humza Yousaf should bin his Hate Crime Act and instead divert resources towards frontline policing which is at breaking point.”