POLICE Scotland has revealed its concerns that the new Hate Crime Bill will create additional pressures and cited plans to tackle abuse within the force.

The force has also clarified that actors and comedians will not be targeted under new hate crime laws.

The Hate Crime Bill will come into force on April 1, expanding existing legislation to cover comments made in private settings without the intention to offend – prompting criticism from author JK Rowling, as well as lawyers both sides of the Border.

Police Scotland’s chief financial officer James Gray revealed that no budget provision had been allocated for “new legislation” at a committee meeting of the Scottish Police Authority.

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His submission said: “Legislation – no provision included for new legislation – assumed that such pressures will be fully funded.”

It added: “The Scottish Government’s Budget confirmed the funding allocation for policing for 2024-25. Funding uplifts were received in core revenue (£75.7 million) and core capital (£13.1m), whilst reform remained at £20m with an additional £5m transferred from core revenue.

“The budget allocation includes a core budget for a maximum of 16,600 officers (plus externally funded additionality, eg local authorities) and the police staff baseline post the current voluntary redundancy/voluntary early retirement exercise.”

On Police Scotland's Twitter/X account, the organisation clarified material of training modules.

Media reports indicated that stirring up hatred under the new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act could be communicated “through public performance of a play”, according to training modules they had seen.

The module stated the material could be shared through platforms such as “podcasts and social media” and spread through “email, playing a video” as well as plays.

However, Police Scotland said the reports were based on training material from Scottish Government explanatory notes which accompany the legislation.

The statement said a “range of scenarios” were included, but stressed officers had not been told to target those particular situations or locations.

The National: Police Scotland

The law, passed in 2021, comes into effect in April and makes it an offence to stir up hatred against protected characteristics including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Police Scotland said: “Police Scotland is not instructing officers to target actors, comedians or any other people or groups.”

The statement added: “Police Scotland is a rights-based organisation and officers balance the protections people have under human rights legislation against other laws every day.

“Our training for the new Act therefore reminds officers of their human rights obligations and it reflects all aspects of the new legislation, including the protection it includes around freedom of expression.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling, 58, is among the critics of the legislation, which she argues limits free speech.

She said she will not delete social media posts which could breach the “ludicrous” law.

It comes after she was embroiled in a misgendering row with transgender broadcaster India Willoughby. On Twitter/X, the author said she would not delete any comments which could be considered criminal in Scotland from April.

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She said: “If you genuinely imagine I’d delete posts calling a man a man, so as not to be prosecuted under this ludicrous law, stand by for the mother of all April Fools’ jokes.”

Meanwhile, a Downing Street spokeswoman said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would not consider similar laws in England.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “I wouldn’t want to comment or speculate about individual cases but the Prime Minister himself believes in free speech. For example, he has been very clear on what the definition of a woman [is] and that biological sex matters and he doesn’t believe that that should be controversial.

“For the Government’s part, we would never and are not introducing any similar kind of legislation here in England. And we’d be very aware of the potential for chilling effects on free speech.”