Racism makes up the majority of hate crimes reported to police in Scotland, new statistics have shown, as the number of incidents reported remains above the five-year average.

Between April and December last year there were 5,375 reports filed to Police Scotland, up 5.5 per cent on the five-year average of 5,096 and slightly higher than the year before when there were 5,365.

Police Scotland said race-related reports continued to make up the majority of hate crimes at just under 60 per cent of the total, while those telling officers they were targeted because of their sexual orientation made up more than 22 per cent of reports.

Chief Superintendent Linda Jones said that “targeting anyone because of who they are is deplorable” and urged anyone who has been targeted to report it to police.

Hate crime is defined as a crime which is perceived by the victim, or anyone else, as being motivated by malice or ill-will towards a social group. Hate crime can be a physical assault or a verbal attack, a one-off incident or a prolonged series of situations.

The legislation covers five protected characteristics – disability, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and transgender identity.

According to the figures released on Friday by Police Scotland, in 2021/22 there were 118 reports of hate based on someone identifying as transgender, an increase of 81.5 per cent from the 65 reports made in 2020/21.

Reports of hate crimes based on just race have seen a 3.7 per cent drop between the two years, but make up 58.9 per cent of reports.

And hate crimes against someone who is disabled have gone up by 20.4 per cent, from 260 in 2020/21 to 313 in 2021/22.

Ms Jones said: “Hate crime can leave people feeling isolated, spread through their family and into the wider community and create pockets of people who may feel unwelcome or rejected.

“Everyone has a right to live safely as their true and authentic selves, without fear of prejudice.

“We understand it can be hard for people to report a hate crime, and in some cases to even recognise or acknowledge that they have been a victim. Some people have been exposed to hate crimes for weeks, months or even years before they are able to report.

“Every complaint is professionally and thoroughly investigated and we treat people who bravely come forward with sensitivity, respect and dignity.”