Section 1. Overview

1.4 How do crimes amounting to racial harassment differ from other crimes?

Racist crime has a damaging effect on individual victims and their communities as well as the development of a multicultural society. If it is tolerated and if government and justice agencies do not respond appropriately, perpetrators are emboldened, Victims' vulnerability is increased and mistrust grows. (Scottish Executive Research Summary 2002).

Racial harassment victims are likely to be victims again

Crimes which form part of a campaign of racial harassment are different in that the motive of the crime is not money, but racism. The victims are chosen because of their ethnic origin or that of a family member.

Racist crime is often repetitive. While some incidents in isolation may appear minor, if repeated over time the impact can become devastating. (Scottish Executive research 2002).

Racial Harassment and Anti-social Behaviour

There is no comparison between racial harassment and most acts of anti-social behaviour, which is usually committed by people who do not care who suffers. Racial harassment is behaviour committed by people who want a particular family or person to suffer simply due to their ethnicity.

In addition to this, a 2005 study suggests that members of an equality group are more than twice as likely as the general population to experience non racial anti social behaviour.

Racial Harassment and Neighbour Disputes

Racial harassment may be committed by a neighbour. To that extent alone, it could be classed as a neighbour dispute. However, a classification of neighbour dispute is misleading because it is assumed that two parties are partly to blame. A wide variety of grievances go unacknowledged by being labelled as neighbour disputes. Racial harassment should not fall into that category.

Racial Harassment is a type of racial discrimination

The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 and the 2003 regulations, which incorporate the EU race discrimination directive into UK legislation, places a general statutory duty on public authorities in Scotland to promote race equality. Racial harassment is covered under the race equality duties imposed by the 2000 Act which places a duty directly on public authorities and indirectly on RSLs to ensure that they eliminate unlawful harassment. This translates to practical duties to impact assess policies to ensure that racial harassment by tenants and residents is addressed. More information is available from this PDF document from

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