Justice Secretary Angela Constance has criticised Police Scotland’s Hate Monster campaign, saying the controversial marketing push “didn't particularly appeal" to her.

In her first interview since the Hate Crime and Public Order Act took effect, the SNP minister also appeared to admit that the Scottish Government could have done more to communicate what the new law does and does not do. 

She also denied that the deluge of reports received by the service in the last week has had an impact on frontline policing.

Ms Constance also said those who were the subject of a vexatious complaint should have "faith in Police Scotland to investigate all matters fearlessly".

READ MORE: Jack McConnell: SNP hate crime law is 'unworkable'

Her comments came after David Threadgold from the Scottish Police Federation warned of the impact of the legislation on the force.

He told STV: “The service is having to take people in on their days off, it's having to provide anything up to 40 officers extra a day to cope with this demand, because what we want to do is try and deliver the best service that we can for the public, so that Police Scotland are having to deal with that demand by providing these extra resources.”

The veteran officer also warned that the sheer amount of overtime needed to process the thousands of complaints received will have an impact on the service’s budget.

Speaking to Scotland Tonight, Ms Constance said: “Well, in my engagement with Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Association [sic], I think we all expected a busy few weeks in the early days of the implementation of this new legislation.

“It is important that I put on record that I continue to engage with Police Scotland who tell me that yes, they're having to invest additional resource in managing a heightened number of complaints but nonetheless, that they continue to cope and that additional demands are not having an impact on frontline communities.”

The minister said she had been told by the Deputy Chief Constable that the “service was indeed coping".

On the communications around the legislation, Ms Constance said: “It is early days with the implementation of this new legislation. You know, I've been around Parliament long enough to recognise that, you know, sometimes we need to do a bit more, work a bit harder to communicate what any given piece of legislation is about, or more importantly, what it is not about.”

Ms Constance was asked about Police Scotland’s Hate Monster campaign.

The year old marketing push on the force’s website gained traction last month ahead of the new hate crime law taking effect. 

The text accompanying the video of the reddish-orange cartoon character was panned for claiming young men aged 18-30 from socially excluded communities were most likely to commit hate crimes.

Critics of the new law have since adopted the creature, with protesters crafting a Hate Monster costume. 

Ms Contance said: “Public information campaigns can be fraught with difficulty, sometimes, you know, they are a resounding success, and other times…"

She added: “It didn't particularly appeal to me. But I would also point to the excellent work that Police Scotland have done in terms of senior police officers, speaking direct to the camera, giving reassuring messages about what hate crime is and what hate crime isn't.”

Ms Constance said there had been a number of vexatious complaints.

She denied that new legislation made that easier.

“There is a very high threshold for criminality in this legislation. And we should also all remember - and this is an appeal to politicians and the public at large - the fundamental purpose of this legislation is to protect individuals, to protect communities who are vulnerable to the risk of hate crime.”

Asked about the process and how she would reassure those who may be on the receiving end of a vexatious complaint, Ms Constance said: “I would say to people in this country that they should have faith in Police Scotland to investigate all matters fearlessly. And without favour to any interested party.”

Dr Kath Murray from the Murray Blackburn Mackenzie policy group said the minister did not seem to understand that for many, there was a fear that the process of being investigated would be the punishment. 

She said: "The Scottish Government has belatedly stressed the high threshold for prosecution under the Act.

"But this does not address ongoing concerns about the impact of contact with the criminal justice system as part of an initial police investigation.

"For the Minister to suggest that people should simply 'have faith' in the process shows she does not understand this point.