Second complaint to BBC Scotland on poor quality of coverage of hate crime


My first complaint on October 20th 2018:

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:


My follow-up complaint today:

CAS-5133614-9673ZG Complaint follow-up

My follow-up comments, limited by the system word limit which you do not have to meet but I do, in italics

Firstly, you are concerned that the report mentioned only disability hate crime and did not mention other hate crimes. That is because the report, as I say above, was about self-protection training offered to victims of disability hate crime. Your proposed references to other forms of hate crime and their rates in Scotland were not relevant to the story.

The report ‘was about’ what you chose it to be. It did not have to be that. Why again did you choose not to report on other much more common forms of hate crime such as race-based which is in decline?

Secondly, you are concerned that we used “the unsubstantiated claim” that more than 90 percent of such incidents are not reported. We said that the figure was an estimate and it is one that is widely used by organisations and charities which specialise in caring for the needs of people with disabilities and who are exposed to hate crimes.

Worthy though the work of the charities you list is, their claims are both partisan by definition and are not based on any empirical research. There is no reliable peer-reviewed evidence for their claims. You are a public service provider with a charter to inform and that requires the use of non-partisan statistics to avoid misleading your audience.

Thirdly, you are concerned that we did not include the rates of other hate crimes to give “a sense of perspective”. There are two points I would make here. I do not believe that that information would have added anything to the story, partly because of the respective levels of estimated non-reporting; and I think we should not lose sight of the fact that this two-minute report was about the solution as much as about the problem – it concentrated on how disabled people are taking action in order to keep themselves safe.

Once more, you seem to think the report you have constructed IS THE STORY when it is only one example of what could have been chosen. In the interests of informing your audience about the highly important phenomenon of hate crime, you chose to report at some length on the very rare and only form where it may be significantly increasing (disability), to inflate that based on unreliable sources and to ignore by far the most common form (race)where there is evidence it is falling.

You have not answered my initial complaint.



6 thoughts on “Second complaint to BBC Scotland on poor quality of coverage of hate crime

  1. Graham MacLure November 3, 2018 / 5:43 pm

    When the puppeteers return from London to Pacific Quay on Monday morning they will immediately sit on your complaint John.


  2. Gerry Roberrtson November 4, 2018 / 6:26 pm

    John if you continue to expose the BBC like this you are going to need a lot more staff to cope. It is getting beyond what one man can possibly handle on their own. Keep it going John I retweet your stuff wider and wider.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s