Complaint to BBC Scotland on poor quality of coverage of hate crime


Fig: Trends in hate crime in Scotland

On Reporting Scotland, at 1.30pm and 6.30pm the coverage of hate crime in Scotland was of poor quality leading to distortion of the content. There were three flaws:

  1. The report covered the only aspect of hate crime where there has been a major reported increase – that against the disabled. For public information, given that this was the only aspect covered at any time by BBC Scotland, the report should have mentioned that hate crime based on race, by far the most common form of hate crime, is falling and that this is unique to Scotland.
  2. The report, once at 1.30 and twice at 6.30, led with the unsubstantiated claim that it is estimated that 93% or more than 90%, of such incidents are not reported. Such a claim is highly significant in that it may lead to disproportionately increased anxiety among disabled people or their friends and family. This could influence important decisions about the travel, education or living arrangements made for disabled people A source for this claim is required in reporting by a public service broadcaster. Giving a source would enable viewers to at least begin to evaluate its reliability.
  3. The scale of such crime needs to be reported to enable viewers a sense of perspective. For example, there were 3249 case of hate crime based on race reported and only 284 cases based on disability. The lack of such context was important given the report’s extended focus on a handful of single, admittedly disturbing cases. I have long experience of working with disabled students and remember them being treated with tremendous kindness by staff and other students. A reliable source:

 It will be interesting to see the response to this given that my last complaint seemed to result in a quiet wee victory. Of course, it might be a cunning new tactic of just absorbing criticism. See:

Is this a first? Reporting Scotland’s editor apologises fully for errors in reporting on alleged school exclusions of children with autism



5 thoughts on “Complaint to BBC Scotland on poor quality of coverage of hate crime

  1. Alasdair Macdonald October 20, 2018 / 9:39 am

    Well done.

    The 93% unreported figure struck me as strange. First of all there is the precision of such a figure compared to, say, ‘more than 90%’ Secondly, there was no mention of how this figure had been arrived at.

    I suspect that the figure was arrived at by a group advocating on behalf of disabled people had asked some disabled people if they had suffered abuse but not reported it. This is similar to the way in which we had the ridiculous claim of children with autism being ‘illegally excluded from school’.

    It is also a quasi-realistic variation of the tip-of-the-iceberg claim (Which as those of us who studied density know, 90% of an iceberg is below the surface.

    With regard to the failure to report the actual numbers of some offences, but, instead to quote percentages is misuse of statistics. Some months ago Professor Tom Devine showed up the ridiculousness of claims of sectarian offences in Scotland being made by a representative of the Roman Catholic Church. He presented some straightforward figures which were in the public domain and the outrageous assertions were shown to be the nonsense that they are.


    • johnrobertson834 October 20, 2018 / 11:57 am

      Yes probably as you say, advocates, but why not name them unless they haven’t even got that?


  2. John Munro October 20, 2018 / 9:53 am

    I am disabled and have never found anything but decency and kindness from the public. At some times it can be a bit embarrassing. I am sure that there are idiotic twerps out there but they are extremely rare. This 93% or 90% unreported figure is dross. We get this, with all sorts of topics nowadays, normally from advocacy groups but, increasingly, from the Scottish MSM in order to create a negative atmosphere round about Scotland. The simple question is; if the figures are unreported then how do people know what the figures are?


    • johnrobertson834 October 20, 2018 / 11:58 am

      Thanks John. As you say there are bad cases but the picture is often less bleak.


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