Sacro has extended its previous sectarian service (SASS) to tackle first time and/or low to moderate level hate crime offending in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. In 2014-2015 almost 30% (approximately 1,500 offences) of all hate crimes in Scotland were committed in either Glasgow or Lanarkshire. (Scotland’s official hate crime statistics 2014-2015).

Background (2013-2016):

Sacro originally received funded from the Scottish Government in 2013, along with 44 other community based organisations, to offer an educational/rehabilitative programme to those charged with a sectarian offence and resident within Lanarkshire, West Lothian, Fife and Forth Valley. Sacro was the only organisation of the 44 funded, to work within the offending community.

The original pilot was to be used as a diversion from prosecution service for first time low/moderate level offences under the sectarian banner. Since then, the service has continuously developed and evolved to respond to identified needs and has established itself within the criminal justice system not only as a diversion from prosecution, but also an addition to disposal as part of community based sanctions. This has allowed social work and other agencies to access the programme for those previously charged with sectarian offences who are displaying sectarian attitudes and behaviours.

Sacro’s Anti- Sectarian Service (SASS) used the pilot, and direction of partners to identify a need for awareness work/support within HMP/HMYOI establishments. SASS provided a number of developed one day awareness raising sessions to prisoners within Polmont and Cornton Vale.

SASS were also asked in June 2015 to expand the remit of the Bespoke Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) programme to work nationally across Scotland to assist any young person aged 12 to 24 who were cautioned or charged with a sectarian offence under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.  SASS provided training to Sacro staff nationally in order for them to be able to facilitate the CBT programme, and respond to any cases that were identified under this legislation.

STOP Service (2016-2017):

Sacro has extended its previous sectarian service (SASS) to tackle first time and/or low to moderate level hate crime offending in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. In 2014-2015 almost 30% (approximately 1,500 offences) of all hate crimes in Scotland were committed in either Glasgow or Lanarkshire. (Scotland’s official hate crime statistics 2014-2015).

Sacro continues to provide a national service throughout Scotland assisting those charged under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. 

The main strand of the service provided by Sacro continues to be utilised as a diversion from prosecution programme, suitability for which is decided by the Procurator Fiscal and/or Early Effective Intervention Team. We can also be of assistance to Sheriffs as a disposal option at court, and social work departments to assist with Community Payback Orders (CPO) for hate crime offenders.

Engagement with the programme is voluntary and criminal charges are still subject to the criminal justice process. STOP report back to the referrer informing of the individual’s engagement levels. 

This year STOP staff will continue to facilitate and evolve our one day awareness raising group work sessions to HMP and HMYOI establishments in the hope of preventing further sectarian and hate crimes being committed, increasing understanding of the effects of discrimination, while promoting a united response to challenging the philosophy of; “It’s none of my business.” Placing responsibilities on individuals and communities to safe guard each other, and report/challenge any prejudicial behaviour.

STOP will also set up support networks on social media services (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) to provide information and education to communities and individuals affected by hate crime behaviours.

STOP aims:


  1. 1.       A)   To increase the range of interventions for dealing with sectarianism and hate crime offences which will have a positive effect on the communities involved.
    1. B)      To reduce the reoccurrence of sectarianism and hate crime offences and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours for those who engage in the developed programme.
    2. C)      To increase the provision of opportunities for genuine education and rehabilitation of offending individuals with discriminatory attitudes and behaviours.
  2. 2.       To reach out to rural and hard to reach communities in raising awareness and providing support for those affected by sectarianism or/and hate crime offences.
  3. 3.       A) To increase informed understanding of effective approaches to dealing with offending behaviour arising from discriminatory attitudes.
    1. B)      To increase the number of rehabilitative options open to the Procurator Fiscal, Scottish courts, youth justice and criminal justice services in Scotland in addressing hate crime offences.

Case Study:

An individual telephoned Sacro to communicate that he had been in contact with Nil By Mouth in relation to picking up a sectarian charge under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication (Scotland) Act 2012. He had appeared before Glasgow Sheriff Court where he admitted the charge and was due to reappear at a later date and as part of his bail conditions, he was currently banned from attending any further football matches at Ibrox or any other football stadium. Nil by Mouth had advised him to contact the SASS team at Sacro.


The individual was male, 34 years of age, had a full time job, no criminal record and had never been in trouble before with the police. He also explained that he had spent two nights in custody and he was so traumatised by the experience that he never wishes to be involved in any incidents with the police in the future. He had missed two shifts at work and had informed them why. The individual was looking for support from SASS to safeguard himself in the future from any further charges. He was very emotional and extremely worried at the real prospect of losing his employment as a result of this charge.

SASS staff had a discussion with the individual regarding the content and intention of the programme. The individual was agreeable to working with SASS. SASS staff explained to the individual that we required authorisation from the appropriate PF prior to accepting his self-referral as this would hopefully result in a diversion from prosecution. SASS staff were successful in obtaining authorisation from the individual to contact his solicitor to maximise the chances of the individual being referred to SASS as a diversion from prosecution.

SASS staff then attempted to contact both the PF responsible for the area in which he was charged and the individual’s solicitor. After several communications (emails and telephone calls) to both the solicitor and football PF, the football PF (Stephen Ferguson) telephoned SASS and was then invited to speak with the SASS team face to face. 


He accepted and the meeting was very productive; PF was able to inform SASS of the centralisation of the PF services marking processes and was also able to confirm that there were three football PF’s in Scotland.  He also confirmed that the referral SASS had been seeking approval to work with as a diversion from prosecution was granted, email confirmation was also received. The individual was informed accordingly by SASS of the PF’s decision. He was very emotional and extremely grateful that he was referred. The individual was asked if he objected to the SASS worker being shadowed by a fellow colleague who was also trained to deliver the national programme but as of yet had not had the opportunity. He stated that he had no objections. He also updated his employers.

The individual’s commitment and engagement levels were excellent and he did not miss any scheduled appointments.  The most challenging aspect of the programme for him was the recreation of the sectarian offence. Although clearly distressed, remorseful and extremely embarrassed by his conduct; he worked through the events that unfolded meticulously, and engaged well with his thoughts, feelings and emotions at each stage, providing and recognising times for avoidance/change of outcome. He did not attempt to divert from the onus of responsibility when constructing an action plan to change attitudes and behaviours.

The individual was very honest with his self and the SASS workers. However, without minimising the offence SASS staff were able to review the events with the individual to empower him to put his actions into context within the field of offending, learning from the offence, looking at the severity of the offence and its consequences, and learning from his behaviour and forgiving himself for his actions and behaviours.

Successful completion of the course was communication in the form of a completion report which was sent to authorising referrer (the football PF). The PF informed SASS and the individual that no further action would be taken and confirmed that bail conditions were now lifted and the individual could now attend football games at Ibrox and other football stadiums. The individual had been upfront with his employers and they were satisfied that did not have to take any action either. (Service user feedback form is provided).

For Further information on STOP, please contact:

Jo Thomace or Kate Ritchie

Sacro Tackling Offending Prejudices (STOP)

Dalziel Building

7 Scott Street


Ml1 1PN

Tel: 01698 337207

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


Twitter: @sacro_

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Eolene Boyd-MacMillan
Thanks so much, Sarah, downloaded and reading. Terrific!