“CONFRONTING hate crime is central to building the safer, stronger and inclusive Scotland that we all want to see” – so writes Humza Yousaf (To build a safer nation we must confront hate crime, November 11). All well and good but it’s worth reflecting on the anti-racist legislation that has been passed since Powell’s rivers of blood diatribe in 1968. Has any of it worked?

Of course it is impossible to disagree with Humza Yousaf’s sentiments for we all (or maybe not all) want to live in an equitable, anti-discriminatory society. But how do we counteract a former Prime Minister’s hostile environment or a Home Secretary whose immigration policy is racist to the extreme? These types of uncaring, barbarous ideologies stem from government policy which, like that of Trump and co, is aimed at division and a return to – or should I say the creation of – some kind of dangerous, restorative nostalgia that reflects backwards to a golden age that never actually existed and which in the end resulted in Brexit, the Windrush scandal and so on.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: To build a safer nation we must confront hate crime

It is heartening to see a government minister attempting to address, at national level, the discriminatory aspects of our society. It might well be that some aspects of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill will be very complex to implement, but they should and hopefully will be ironed out.

However, and this is my main point, how does a criminal justice system in its entirety address the very basic necessities of sentencing an offender who has been found guilty of a racially motivated crime? Does the system impose a custodial or community sentence, or a fine? Whichever ruling comes down, if it does not address the opinions that led to the crime in the first place then nothing will change.

In any sentencing scenario, perhaps an order should be imposed to force attendance at an anti-racist/hatred course run by the probation service or some other body set up for exactly that purpose. Now I am aware that many criminal justice staff work within the scenario mentioned, but I feel that in some cases these interventions are ad hoc and of course dependent on the resources available. In order to help change deep-seated discriminatory attitudes, those types of interventions should be systemic. If we don’t do this then how do we create meaningful change in individuals or society in general?

Alan Hind
Old Kilpatrick