By Bill Heaney
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher MSP has today launched her Proposed Desecration of War Memorials Prevention Scotland Members Bill for consultation at Holyrood.
The legislation would ensure that attacks on war memorials – which have been on the rise over the last decade – are actively discouraged by amending vandalism law to recognise the desecration of these monuments as a specific offence, which would bring Scotland into line with England and Wales.
The consultation will run from now until December 19.
Meghan Gallacher has repeatedly spoken about the importance of preserving these “emotive focal points” at the heart of our communities.
Groups including the Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial have campaigned tirelessly for this legislation, which has also secured the support of veterans’ organisations, past and present British Armed Forces personnel – including Simon Weston – veterans campaigners, community action groups, and leading veteran charities.
Meghan Gallacher is now encouraging people to make their views known through the consultation so that Scotland’s War Memorials will receive the protection that they deserve.
Meghan Gallacher MSP, pictured right, said: “I am delighted to bring this bill forward for consultation and I encourage everyone to make their views known over the coming weeks.
“Scotland’s war memorials are an important, treasured part of our country’s heritage and must be given better protection.
“The SNP Government need to do more to put specific protections in place for these monuments. The current vandalism laws do not go far enough and are clearly not acting as a sufficient deterrent to those carrying out attacks on war memorials.
“War memorials are emotive focal points at the very heart of our communities and collective memories. Many of the families, who have ancestors listed upon these memorials, still live locally.
“We need to commemorate those who gave their lives, recognise our veteran communities, and ensure that our memorials are better protected for future generations.”
- The consultation is now live here: https://www.parliament.scot/bills-and-laws/proposals-for-bills/proposed-desecration-of-war-memorials-prevention-scotland-bill
- Between 2006 and 2013, the Scottish War Memorials Project recorded over 5,000 Scottish war memorials. This figure includes 1,480 civic memorials, 1,131 church memorials, 190 school memorials, 840 memorials to individuals, and 344 regimental and unit memorials. (ScARF, Accessed 29 September 2022, link).
- Attacks on war memorials in Scotland have increased within the last decade. Since 1996, there have been 66 attacks on war memorials in Scotland. Although the number appears to be low, 46 of those attacks, or 70 per cent, have occurred within the past decade. (Official report, 15 June 2022, link).
- Most attacks have taken place across the Central Belt. Although attacks have occurred across a wide geographical expanse in Scotland, 40 attacks have taken place across the Central Belt. (Meghan Gallacher, Meeting of the Parliament: Protection of War Memorials, 15 June 2022, link).