Views sought on repeal of Offensive Behaviour and Threatening Communications Act

01.07.2017

Holyrood’s Justice Committee is seeking the public’s views on proposals to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012.

A Members Bill has been introduced by James Kelly MSP. The Bill would fully repeal the 2012 Act, as Mr Kelly believes that the current law is “illiberal”, doesn’t tackle sectarianism, and that other laws already exist covering the offences.

Others believe that the Act should remain. They argue a large amount of offensive behaviour at football matches is not always caught by current law, nor are threats made with the intent of inciting religious hatred. There are also views that the 2012 Act has had a deterrent effect.

Justice Committee Convener, Margaret Mitchell MSP, said:

“The Act has aroused strong and opposing views about its necessity and effectiveness.

“The Justice Committee is keen to hear the full range of opinions about this significant proposal to remove a law from the statute books.”

Previous consultation before the Bill was introduced solicited over 3,200 responses, with a majority of respondents in favour of repealing the Act.

Now the Bill has been introduced, the Justice Committee is keen to hear people’s views about the details as well as the principle. Responses can be sent to justicecommittee@parliament.scot.  

Key questions the Committee is asking include:

  • Do you agree with repealing the 2012 Act? And why have you come to that opinion?
  • Would repeal create a gap in our laws, or is other legislation sufficient?
  • Has the 2012 Act assisted in tackling sectarianism?
  • If the 2012 Act is repealed, do you agree with proposals in the Bill to stop further convictions under that Act?

Background

More information on the Bill is available on the Parliament’s website: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/105514.aspx