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Background Info

Threats to kill, rape or assault another person are an offence and could result in prosecution under a number of statutes and common law. The sending of threatening messages, e-mails, letters etc. can also attract prosecution in statute and common law. Assault can also be prosecuted using common law and a number of statutes depending on the person being assaulted and the motivation for the assault.

A number of statutory aggravations exist in Scots law and can affect a number of elements including the way a crime is recorded, the framing of the charges by the police, the availability and willingness of COPFS to issue fiscal warnings or diversions from prosecution, the marking of a case by COPFS, the weight placed on who the victim is by the court, and the motivation for the offence. Some examples of statutory aggravations include:

  • assaults against police constables and police staff in the course of their duty as detailed in s90 of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012
     
  • assaults against emergency service workers as detailed in the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005
     
  • crimes aggravated by religious prejudice under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 and Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009.

Parliamentarians perform a unique civic function in the national interest and an assault on them is an assault on democracy. Threatening to kill or harm an elected parliamentarian sitting in one of our legislatures could affect the member's ability or willingness to proceed with a course of action and could impede them in performing their duties as a legislator. While we may not agree with some decisions, behaviours or party affiliations of some members elected to national legislatures, these members are duly elected and sit as legislators representing their constituents or respective regions.

This petition would call on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to recognise the unique role parliamentarians play in our society and bring forward legislation to ensure threats and assaults against them, their staff and their families are treated seriously and recorded as an aggravated offence, with Sheriffs and Judges being required to weigh-up the aggravating factor when sentencing.