Low uptake of government backed anti-sectarian programme

Written by Andrew Whitaker on 8 August 2016 in News

A scheme launched aimed at curbing sectarian attitudes has been completed by just 22 people charged with offensive behaviour at football matches 

credit - Fotolia

Just 22 people charged with offensive behaviour at football matches have completed a Scottish Government-backed scheme to deal with sectarian attitudes.

The figure was revealed by Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing in response to a parliamentary question.

Ministers gave £60,000 to the Safeguarding Communities, Reducing Offending (Sacro) scheme last year.


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The initiative was created in an effort to keep people aged 12 to 24 charged with sectarian offences out of court.

More than 1,000 charges have been brought under the Scottish government's Offensive Behaviour at Football Act since its launch, leading to more than 200 criminal prosecutions, official figures up to 2015-16 show.

However, prosecutors have sent just 34 people to Sacro's anti-sectarian services programme, with only 22 people completing it.

All four of Holyrood's opposition parties have pledged to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

The legislation was introduced in 2012 in an attempt to crack down on sectarianism and other football-related offences, but critics say there is already sufficient legislation in place to deal with such crimes.

Labour MSP James Kelly has launched a formal bid to scrap the law, which he said had damaged trust between police and football fans.

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