MORE THAN a quarter of all hate crimes in Scotland involve alcohol, according to statistics obtained by a Glasgow equality charity.

The figure rises to nearly 40% when it comes to religiously aggravated offences.

Anti-bigotry charity Nil by Mouth has teamed up with students at City of Glasgow College to launch a campaign encouraging drinkers to consider the possible consequences of their behaviour on a night out.

Cheers to Change has been devised by Euan Telfer, Connor Johnston and Callum Weatherall.

Glasgow Times: Euan Telfer, Connor Johnston and Callum Weatherall with Nil by Mouth director Dave Scott

The trio won Nil by Mouth’s latest Pitch Perfect Competition, which saw more than 100 marketing students compete to create a campaign which challenges people to act against hatred.

It is judged by an independent panel drawn from the world of the arts, marketing and the voluntary sector.

The students launched their campaign at the University of Strathclyde Student Union, where they created a range of mocktails and cocktails aimed at starting a conversation with drinkers about their experience of hate crime in pubs and clubs.

This comes as the Glasgow Times yesterday launched a campaign to investigate alcohol as a factor of offending in the city.

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Nil by Mouth has obtained what it calls 'worrying' statistics from the Scottish Government which show that the highest percentage of alcohol-related hate crime offences are connected to religion, at 38 percent.

The data, which comes from research carried out by Scottish Government analysts into the characteristics of police-recorded hate crimes, based on a random sample from 2020-21, shows that alcohol was a factor in 27% of the total crimes recorded.

For sexual orientation hate crimes, the figure rises to 34.9%. For race hate crimes, alcohol was a factor in 24% of cases; for disability, the figure is 19.6%, and for transgender identity hate crimes, it is 7.6%.

The charity is now aiming to engage with licensed premises across the city, asking them to display promotional material linked to the campaign and offer free training for staff to help them identify and challenge behaviour when required.

Euan Telfer said: “Everyone knows Glaswegians love a night out, so we aren’t wanting to lecture people about alcohol or be preachy, but we want to create an opportunity to talk to them as adults and ask them to consider the impact of alcohol on their behaviour or that of others around them.

“People should feel that they are safe to go out for a drink without the worry of getting aggravation based on who they are.”

He added: “At the Union, we had a drink with people and listened to their experiences in a social setting and it can actually be an effective environment to reach people.

“Change is best created when we talk to, not at, people.”

Glasgow Times: Euan Telfer, Connor Johnston and Callum Weatherall

The students have been in touch with a number of bars in the city who are keen to get involved, explained Euan.

“We’d like them to take part in the free Nil by Mouth training sessions, and also, display promotional material,” he added.

“We want this campaign to encourage people to consider their behaviour and to help ensure that everyone knows their rights and responsibilities.”

Nil by Mouth Director Dave Scott said: “Over the years I’ve observed numerous court cases for religiously aggravated behaviour where the defendant and their legal team has tried to use the fact they had consumed alcohol as some sort of rationale for their actions.

“This is never an excuse, and the courts certainly don’t accept it as one.”

He added: “That is why it’s important we use campaigns like this to get the message across to people that too much alcohol can impair our judgement and cause us to behave in ways that are threatening toward others.

“Through our Beyond Religion and Belief workplace programme we can offer free training to pubs and clubs across Scotland regarding these issues, and we hope that by working with both punter and publican we can help address what these statistics show is a very real problem.”

Recent statistics show that 5,738 charges of hate crime were reported in Scotland in 2022-23.

Nil by Mouth was set up by former Glasgow Times Scotswoman of the Year Cara Henderson, following the sectarian murder of her friend, Mark Scott, in 1995.

Tomorrow: Exclusive look inside Glasgow's alcohol court.