It's a grumpy red creature which "loves it when you get angry" and feeds on insecurity. 

But the Hate Monster from a Police Scotland campaign has come under fire as Humza Yousaf's new hate crime law arrives. 

The wee beastie has been labelled "grossly offensive" alongside the force's drive to crackdown on prejudice. 

Here's who the Hate Monster is, and why people are upset about it. 

Who is the Hate Monster?

Police Scotland describes the Hate Monster as a "feeling" people get when they are frustrated and angry and take it out on others "because they feel they need to show they are better than them". 

In other words, the angry red creature represents committing a hate crime

The force said: "The Hate Monster loves it when you get angry. He weighs you down till you end up targeting someone, just because they look or act different to you.

"When you’re feeling insecure or angry, the Hate Monster feeds on that."

What is the background to the Hate Monster campaign?

Originally launched in 2023, the Hate Monster campaign has reemerged as new laws to tackle the harm caused by hatred and prejudice come into force in Scotland. 

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act aims to provide greater protection for victims from April 1. 

It creates "stirring up of hatred" offences, which protect certain groups, including age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. 

However, the new law has been criticised with claims it will waste police time due to officers investigating every report they receive. 

What is a hate crime?

Hate crimes are defined by police as "behaviour which is both criminal and rooted in prejudice". Under Police Scotland's guidance, this includes: 

  • Threatening behaviour

  • Verbal abuse or insults including name-calling

  • Assaults

  • Robbery and damage to property - including graffiti 

Why has the Hate Monster campaign been criticised?

The Hate Monster campaign has come under fire mostly for its references to "white-male entitlement" and connection of hate crime to young men from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The campaign page on the Police Scotland website says: "We know that young men aged 18-30 are most likely to commit hate crime, particularly those from socially excluded communities who are heavily influenced by their peers.

"They may have deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement."

The website also states committing hate crime is "strongly linked" to a range of risk factors including economic deprivation, adverse childhood experiences, substance abuse, and under-employment.

Read more: Police Scotland to use Glasgow sex shop for hate crime reporting

Reacting to the campaign, former Scottish Labour MSP Johann Lamont wrote on X (formerly Twitter): "The Police Scotland Hate Monster campaign is puerile.

"But worse - the notion that hate is driven by economic disadvantage insults all who support their families and communities despite poverty. And it ignores the hatred exercised by those who are financially secure."

Scottish Conservative MP Russell Findlay described the Hate Monster as a "grossly offensive" pound shop version of a Sesame Street character. 

The party's justice spokesperson said: "The suggestion that people from deprived areas are more likely to commit alleged hate crimes is grossly offensive.

"This SNP legislation risks harming free speech in Scotland and should be binned – allowing police to revert to investigating every crime that is reported to them."