Police are having to deal with more racist hate crimes following a rise in offences around the EU referendum, figures show.
The latest Home Office data shows an increase in the number hate crimes reported to the police, where race is the motivating factor, during the year of the Brexit vote.
In the 2016-17 financial year, 62,685 incidents were recorded across England and Wales where someone was abused or attacked due to their race. The referendum was in June 2016.
That is a 27% increase on the previous year, when 49,419 cases were recorded.
A Home Office report states that, while the police have improved their recording methods, ‘part of the increase is due to a genuine increase in hate crime, particularly around the time of the EU Referendum’.
Rose Simkins, chief executive of Stop Hate UK, said it was ‘now an indisputable fact’ that racist incidents have risen since the Brexit vote.
She explained: ‘Our own figures, from the period 2016-17, also support this trend where, after several years of disability being the biggest motivating factor, there was a clear shift towards race being the biggest factor.
‘Also, after the referendum, many more people reported suffering hate for the first time, as deep-rooted prejudices surfaced and manifested themselves as abuse and threats to innocent members of the public.’
Ms Simkins said that while reporting and recording of hate crime had improved, she still believed there was a large disparity between the actual number of incidents and the number reported to the police.
She said: ‘It is vital that the police and authorities make use of the advice, support and training available from specialist third party organisations, such as Stop Hate UK and that, collectively, we adopt a collaborative approach to tackling hate crime.
‘We still need many more resources to help close the disparity between the number of incidents happening to those reported, and to increase public confidence that an incident, or perceived incident, is worth reporting in the first place.’
Labour MP David Lammy MP, a champion of the campaign group Best for Britain, which is calling for a second referendum, said: “This spike in hate crimes is the direct result of the despicable, ignorant and dehumanising culture of the 2016 referendum campaign, as well as the xenophobic rhetoric of so many who continue to make the argument for Brexit.
“In the eyes of many, Brexit legitimised racism. It is time to now pause and reflect on where this leaves us as a country, and how we can restore a culture of diversity, tolerance and respect.”