A senior police officer has said that the post-Brexit spike in hate crime is linked to the referendum result, reports Asian Lite News
Mark Hamilton, who leads on hate crime for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, is reported to have said some people took the narrow vote to leave the EU “as a licence to behave in a racist or other discriminatory way”.
Since the June 23 vote, there have been vivid reports of people born abroad receiving verbal abuse on the street or menacing behaviour. It has been reported that one family in Plymouth, originally from Poland, had their shed torched by someone who left a message telling them to “go back to your f***ing country”.
There were 3,076 hate crimes reported in the week before and after the referendum, a 42% increase on the same period last year. “We cannot divorce the country’s reaction to the referendum and the increase in hate crime reporting,” Hamilton told The Guardian. “I believe the referendum debate has led to an increase in reporting of hate crime.
Hope Not Hate, a group that has campaigned against xenophobia and the Far Right, said the referendum “gave encouragement to people who already hate, to hate even more” and does not reflect a rise in racist feeling.
A spokesperson said: “We cannot full into the trap of saying Britain is a more racist society. Britain is certainly a more polarised society than before the Referendum, that is certain.
Ironically, though, the organised far right is actually far weaker than ever before: groups such as the BNP and EDL have collapsed. In their wake have emerged some more nasty, virulent fringe organisations which have a far larger visibility on social media than their small numbers reflect in reality.”
Though the Leave campaign emphasised sovereignty as a reason to vote Leave, immigration was a motif of many’s argument for Brexit. Nigel Farage unveiled an infamous poster of a group of refugees attempting to enter the EU with the words “BREAKING POINT”, a move that alienated and was condemned by fellow Leave campaigners such as Michael Gove, who said it made him “shudder”.
The second and third most common types of offence are public order offences and criminal damage. Dr Paul Bagguley, from the Centre of Ethnicity and Racism Studies at Leeds University, told Huffington Post UK that much of the hate crime was “celebratory” after the Leave vote.
He said: “It seems to be anybody who is different, anybody with a different accent, anybody from a different country, anybody who has a different religion … it’s very general kind of xenophobia.
Speaking last week, Hamilton said the increase in reported hate crime was partly due to police forces monitoring it “most robustly” since the Paris terror attacks in November, 2015.