As hate crime falls in Scotland and soars elsewhere, STV and BBC Scotland report fake news of an increase


Here’s the STV headline:

‘Politicians tackle Islamophobia after increase in attacks’

The report goes on to say:

‘Politicians will consider further action to tackle an “abhorrent” anti-Muslim campaign as a community representative said it has already triggered Islamophobic incidents in Scotland.   Police Scotland representatives will tell MSPs of action taken so for against social media and letter campaign urging people to “punish” a Muslim. A statement on behalf of Mr Sarwar said Glasgow’s ethnic minority communities have been alerted to give allegations of five serious hate crimes in the past 10 days. These are said to include an allegation that a schoolboy asked a young girl if he could pull her hijab off and film it to earn “points” for the campaign – which assigns these for crimes against Muslims.’

Is that a ‘serious’ hate crime? Is this hard evidence of any increase? Toward the end of the STV and the BBC reports we read:

No-one in Scotland is known to have received a copy, but Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said there has been a “spike” in racist and Islamophobic crimes in Glasgow.’

So, the headline is a lie.

BBC Scotland’s headline is at least not an outright fib:

‘MSPs to discuss concerns over ‘vile’ Islamophobic letters’

but it does go on to add unsourced rumours to the bonfire and to conflate the situation in Scotland with that in England:

‘There are fears the campaign may have led to physical attacks in Scotland. Concerns have also been raised about them in the House of Commons, with MPs describing the “abhorrent” letters as a “really urgent situation”.’

Is the above saying that concerns at Westminster are justifying fears in Scotland?

Again, there are one or two anecdotal reports of abuse but none of any arrests and almost at the end of the report:

‘Although there are no known recipients in Scotland, they have nonetheless caused considerable alarm and the community needs reassurance, especially since the letters have already triggered Islamophobic incidents here.’

If no one has received one of them, how could they have been alarmed?

OK, how about some real evidence of the kind a decent journalist might have reported:

‘There were 3,349 [hate crime] charges reported in 2016-17, 10 percent fewer than in 2015-16, and the lowest number reported since 2003-04.’

Remember these figures include anti-semitism (17), racism, Anglophobia, EastEuropeanphobia, Catholicphobia, and Proddyphobia.

Also, for context:

Hate crimes have rocketed by almost a third in the UK in the past year, with unprecedented spikes around the EU referendum and terror attacks recorded by police. New figures released by the Home Office confirm victims’ reports of a dramatic increase in incidents motivated by attackers’ hostility towards their race, nationality, religion or other factors. Data from police forces across England and Wales showed there were almost 80,400 hate crimes recorded in the 2016/17 financial year.’

I’m part-time, getting-on and have no research assistant. How can I offer context, clarity and accuracy when STV and BBC, with their resources, cannot?


3 thoughts on “As hate crime falls in Scotland and soars elsewhere, STV and BBC Scotland report fake news of an increase

  1. Contrary March 28, 2018 / 8:08 am

    Yes, this appeared to be a ‘spike’ rather than a ‘surge’ (a real favourite that).

    I woke up yesterday morning to the radio – GMS, good morning Scotland, ,,, good? They need to revise the way they report to make that word relevant – telling me that ‘Fear and hate is sweeping across Glasgow’ , well, that woke me up – goodness, thought I, have the Russians invaded and are marching through the Glasgow streets? What could be causing this sweeping fear throughout the city? Is it burning? Is everyone huddling in their homes too scared to go out? Sweeping fear? Sounds big, thought I.

    The report went on to describe, rather weakly considering the headline, that some MSPs had received islamophobic tweets and emails,,, garble garble ,,, and yes, there had been an additional 5 reported incidents in Glasgow. My non-caffeinated brain really struggled to consolidate ‘sweeping fear’ with ‘increased reporting’. Obviously even the GMS team struggled with justifying this report & didn’t seem to repeat it, just as though they’d been instructed to include it. So, after coffee I managed to categorise it into the ‘obligatory fake news putting Scotland down for the sake of reminding us how crap we are’ reportage – probably to make up for the ‘Scotland is great we get earlier cancer screening’ reporting of the day before. [punish me! Punish me! We are not worthy!]

    Don’t get me wrong, ANY such incidents are unacceptable; but so is telling me there is ‘sweeping fear’ when there is not.


  2. Ludo Thierry March 28, 2018 / 9:23 am

    Hi Contrary – I find the concept of ‘sweeping’ makes me quite ‘fearful’ – that must be why my carpets and rugs are so full of oose!


  3. Contrary March 28, 2018 / 6:16 pm

    Haha, hi Ludo, same here regarding sweeping! The mites have a field day on my floors.


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