Monthly Archives: October 2017

Hate the hatred, change the hater

I’m a tall, white, heterosexual, middle aged man and my belly is growing too big for my frame, so writing about hate crime lacks some credibility. However, I do recall being disturbed at primary school when a new boy who had moved from Africa spent his playtime with crowds of children around him making ooh ooh eee aah sounds. I still look back and wonder why there was no adult intervention.

I have remained lifelong friends with that boy and despite his adversities, he grew up to become very successful. Another friend from school moved hundreds of miles away from home because he was gay and was concerned about physical violence if he came out in a post-industrial Scottish town. In his case, I’m convinced that adversities from his childhood contributed to his premature death. Other observations of hatred and division from my Scottish childhood include derision of; English people, learning disabilities and even the labels on clothes or shoes. There is also the people of colour problem in Scotland – that orange and green thing!

Although my life started out with a low benchmark of equality and diversity, I’m not complacent about the need for improvements and I’m not complacent about my own personal unconscious bias. Sorry, I’m only human and I’m in the middle of a lifetime pursuit of observing and conquering my faults. I am improving though, even if I still struggle with negative stereotypes about Daily Mail readers!

Many factors have supported our national diversity journey.  We have moved from open hatred and frequent violence to more casual hatred masked by political correctness, however diversity training is not normally effective, unless it has an element to invoke moments of truth about unconscious bias – instead it can be counter-productive.[i] Beating people up with a diversity stick does not work – being angry and judgmental obstructs change to hatred and bigotry.

Reliably benchmarking hate crime is important for recording progress – it is better than 40-year-old anecdotes and perceptions. This can only be achieved by improving reporting rates. There is also a need to expand the scope of challenging hatred to include accents, homelessness and poverty. The abuse of roofless people by affluent weekend drinkers in our cities is particularly disturbing, regardless of any protected characteristics they have.

However, we need to be realistic about our expectations of the justice system to change hearts, minds and behaviours. I have come across too many perpetrators of hate crimes who feel victimised and over-punished, even though the aggravated offence resulted in low level court disposals.

I can recall frequent remarks which appear to genuinely imply or state that “I’m not a racist” or “they would never have prosecuted a black person”. The fact that an equalities campaigner was recently convicted for making racially abusive remarks to the Scottish Defence League linked ( suggests that absurdities may exist in the prosecution process for lower level hate crime and that many perceptions are misguided, (although I am not familiar with this case other than the linked report).

The toxicity of hate crime convictions create a long term legacy for perpetrators by over-restricting access to  employment or services such as education. Our work with recruiters has shown that a minor hate crime disposal creates exponential barriers to employment or education, if that conviction is disclosed.

We must also consider any outcomes in terms of poverty impacts. Pejorative terms associated with hate crime aggravators are common parlance among certain generations and communities. The misuse of this language within the context of a heated dispute is complex and this is especially true for individuals with communication difficulties or people who have difficulties asserting themselves.

I’m aware of hate crime survivors who later committed suicide and my final point is to consider the wellbeing of victims. There is no doubt that human adversities such as hate crime can result in long term trauma but healthy relationships are the very tonic required to heal people after adversity. I am convinced in many cases, mediation would be a much better response to achieve this than criminal justice.

In short, I am concerned that Lord Bracadale’s Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland may not invoke practical improvements if it recommends increasing punitive approaches. Although hate crime remains a priority problem in Scotland, it requires all of us to step up not just the police and courts.


Richard Thomson

Director – Policy Development

Recruit With Conviction



Recruit With Conviction draft response to higher level disclosure consultation.

The text below sets out a draft response from Recruit With Conviction to the Scottish Government consultation which proposes changes to higher level disclosure.

We welcome any feedback from partners and stakeholders before we submit our response in November 2018. Email your feedback to

Do you have any views / observations on this Proposed Draft Order?

Recruit With Conviction works to smooth the path to safe, suitable and sustainable employment for people with convictions. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the PROPOSED DRAFT POLICE ACT 1997 AND PROTECTION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS (SCOTLAND) ACT 2007 REMEDIAL ORDER 2018

Conviction disclosure inhibits fair opportunities to compete for employment.

Conviction disclosure anxiety is a normal human reaction. This anxiety links to avoidance of applying for jobs and ineffective disclosure. In practical terms, people tend to disclose ineffectively and unassertively unless they receive specific support to do so. Such disclosure support is not widely available

Your rights to withhold disclosure of protectable convictions and your responsibilities to disclose unprotectable convictions are defined from a complex set of algorithms. – Applicants and recruiters do not understand it.

The current employer guidance on asking for pre-disclosure information for PVG, enhanced or standard certificates, necessitates a similarly complex question. Ideally recruiters should only be permitted to request unspent convictions up front because spent convictions are rarely relevant and always require confidential handling. If recruiters only  asked for unspent convictions in advance, then it would simplify disclosure for applicants and recruiters. Any spent convictions which appeared later  in the process would be unlikely to have relevance and should be easy to deal with.

Furthermore, information about spent convictions is highly confidential and this information is ringfenced from most recruitment situations. There are handling rules for this information when it has been provided by Disclosure Scotland , however other recruitment processes are not audited for secure information exchange or storage. There are risks that applicants may feel obliged to provide such information by email or non-secure webforms.

Disclosure of convictions also affects recruiters. Offender stereotypes and inaccurate associated assumptions are commonly developed in the minds of recruiters, especially where those recruiters have not been trained to deal with disclosure of convictions and in situations where conviction disclosure is rare. Therefore, any change to remove the unnecessary disclosure of  convictions should be welcomed.

The process which uses the expertise of sheriffs to make such decisions on a case by case basis appears transparent and robust. 

In relation to the partial Equality Impact Assessment, please tell us about any potential impacts, either positive or negative; you feel the amendments to legislation in this consultation document may have on any particular groups of people?

Men are about 3 times more likely to have a criminal conviction than women. Therefore, men are significantly more likely to have to disclose convictions than women. There are also significant correlations with of people with convictions to poverty and deprivation.

From a wider equalities perspective, we know that protected characteristics can create additional barriers to disclosure.  Most people carry some level of conscious or unconscious bias against individuals who appear to be “unlike themselves”.  Where recruiters have a “not like me observation” connected to a person disclosing a conviction, then different ethnicities, accents, cultural behaviours, learning disabilities etc, create a multiplying negative effect on the disclosure barriers. There is also evidence, that women with convictions are judged more harshly by recruiters than men after committing like for like offences.

Therefore, unnecessary requirements to disclose convictions have complex negative impacts on equalities and any movement to remove unnecessary requirements to disclose convictions would have a positive impact on equalities.  

In relation to the partial Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment, please tell us about any potential impacts you think there may be on children’s wellbeing. 

There is well established research which connects Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), high levels of cortisol, poor education outcomes, poor health outcomes and prison experience.

Distressed behaviours which are linked to unresolved PTSD are commonly a root cause of offending behaviour. When the PTSD is resolved and the social determinants of adversity in a person’s life are no longer present, then that person has no reason to commit crime any more than any other person.

It would be significantly beneficial for children who suffer from ACEs and PTSD to be more able to build safe relationships with adults who understand their distressed behaviours through personal lived experience.

From a wider perspective, public and voluntary organisations which fail to recruit staff and volunteers who are representative of their patients, pupils clients and customers are not  effectively resourced to make improvements to inequalities in health, education, justice and social care.

“The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study”. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. May 2014.