The Scottish Government has underestimated the cost of its proposed hate crime Bill, according to representatives of Scotland’s rank and file police officers.
The Scottish Police Federation told Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee that current official estimates “represent a gross underestimation” of potential costs.
The proposed legislation has met with fierce criticism since being announced, with politicians, academics and many other public figures expressing serious concerns about the impact on free speech.
The Federation, which represents 98 per cent of the country’s police officers, accused the committee of failing to take into account additional costs, such as responding to freedom of information requests and the increase in officers giving evidence in court.
The organisation noted that training alone would cost up to £4 million.
The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill would criminalise ‘stirring up hatred’ against people on the basis of certain ‘protected characteristics’, including religion, sexuality and transgender identity. There would be no need to show that stirring up hatred had been intended, or actually happened.
Free to Disagree, a campaign group supported by The Christian Institute, called for the ‘stirring up’ provisions to be removed.
Its spokesman said scrapping them was “the only way to ensure that fundamental liberties are respected”.