THE anticipated spike in hate crime reports around the Rangers-Celtic game has not materialised, according to a top police officer.

David Threadgold, the chair of the Scottish Police Federation (SPF), also told the BBC that he didn’t think anyone in the force had been taken by surprise by the new hate crime legislation, which came into effect on April 1.

He was speaking after the Old Firm game between Rangers and Celtic on Sunday, which ended in a 3-3 draw.

In the wake of the match, police said a small number of reports were being assessed under the Hate Crime Act.

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Fears of a serious spike in reports around the game had been stoked by figures such as pundit Ally McCoist, who said last week that he could “guarantee” he and 48,000 others would breach the new laws at the match.

However, Threadgold said that the anticipated spike had not materialised.

The SPF chair said: “The anticipated spike in hate crime reports hasn't necessarily yet materialised, but that, of course, doesn't mean that it can't in the future.”

The BBC host then said that police had “seen a huge number” of complaints, before asking about comments headlined on the BBC website from former Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman.

Speaking on Sunday, Freeman expressed "frustration at the level of misinformation" around the Hate Crime Act, saying she thought the “furore and genuine concerns over the last week has caught the Scottish Government by surprise”.

Asked if police officers had been “caught by surprise”, Threadgold said they had not.

“I don't think anyone within the SPF has been caught by surprise,” he said. “We've been very vocal about the anticipated spike in business for policing.

“What has not helped is the fact that the training that's been provided to the police has been delivered in an online format, which is not necessarily conducive to asking the ‘what if’ questions.

“This legislation is so broad and allows for such nuance that we have not been given the opportunity to ask the ‘what if’ questions.”

Threadgold said that the issues with training combined with the “sheer volume of cases” meant police would need time to go through the reports they have received.

“That will have a potential impact on the public's conference in policing, which I'm very keen to avoid as a serving officer myself,” he added.

“Police Scotland has been aware of the date of implementation of this legislation for a long time, but it's my opinion that the priority to train our officers to deliver it has not been there, and we're seeing the consequences of that in some respect.”