After a massive increase in attacks, a bid has been launched to protect Scotland’s war memorials from vandals and left-wing activists. The deputy leader of the Scottish Conservative Party and columnist of the Scottish Daily Express, Meghan Gallacher MSP, wants to make the desecration of monuments a specific crime, a move that would bring Scotland into line with England and Wales.
On Wednesday, Gallacher launched his proposed legislation for Scottish members against the desecration of war memorials at Holyrood. A consultation will take place from now until 19 December.
According to the Scottish Conservatives, reported attacks on war memorials have increased in the last decade. There were only 20 incidents between 1996 and 2012. However, in the last 10 years to 2022, 40 cases have been reported, an increase of 130 percent over the last 16 years.
This follows a number of incidents in recent years. War memorials have been targeted by left-wing activists, and last year the monument was set on fire in Edinburgh. Glasgow’s cenotaph was also the target of two attacks last year, while a Boer War memorial in the city was defaced by Black Lives Matter activists in 2020.
Ms. Gallacher has repeatedly spoken about the importance of preserving these “emotional hot spots” at the heart of our communities. On Wednesday, she said: “I am delighted to submit this bill for consultation and encourage everyone to make their views known in the coming weeks.
“Scotland’s war memorials are an important and valuable part of our country’s heritage and should be better protected. The SNP government needs to do more to implement specific protection measures for these monuments.
“The current vandalism laws do not go far enough and clearly do not act as a deterrent enough for those who commit attacks on war memorials. War memorials are emotional focal points at the heart of our communities and collective memories.
“Many of the families whose ancestors are listed on these monuments still live on the spot. We need to honor those who gave their lives, recognize our veteran communities, and make sure that our monuments are better protected for future generations.”
Scotland has more than 5,000 registered war memorials. Most of the attacks occur in the central belt, while in the rest of the UK, damaging one of them can lead to a 10-year prison sentence.