A law that criminalises football-related offensive behaviour must be repealed after the Scottish Government acknowledged it has led to a “very small” number of convictions, the Conservatives have demanded.
Leader Ruth Davidson said recent statistics revealing just 79 convictions last year vindicates her warnings four years ago that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act 2012 was “unnecessary and unworkable”.
There have been 231 convictions since the law was enacted compared with more than 15,000 breach-of-the-peace convictions last year alone.
The Scottish Government’s Criminal Proceedings in Scotland 2014/15 report states: “The (2012) Act criminalises behaviour which is threatening, hateful or otherwise offensive at a regulated football match including offensive singing or chanting.
“It also criminalises the communication of threats of serious violence and threats intended to incite religious hatred, whether sent through the post or posted on the internet.
“Numbers are very small (79 convictions in 2014-15) in comparison to the crime type, breach of the peace (15,580 convictions) which they fall into, making up around less than 1%.”
Ms Davidson said: “We warned before this legislation was passed that it was unnecessary and unworkable.
“Now, even the Scottish Government’s own document admits – four years on – the number of convictions is ‘very small’.
“The Scottish Conservatives are committed to repealing this unpopular act and the SNP should make the same admission.
“It wrongly targets football supporters, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding and civilised, and simply want to enjoy football matches without police breathing down their neck.
“There was already sufficient legislation in place to deal with disorder at football matches and these figures only serve to reinforce that point.”