'Inflammatory rhetoric' from Brexiteers partly to blame for 10% rise in hate crimes, say critics

PUBLISHED: 14:37 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 15 October 2019

There has been a 10% increase in hate crime since last year. Picture: Kent Police

There has been a 10% increase in hate crime since last year. Picture: Kent Police

Chief Constable Kent Police

New police figures show that recorded hate crime in England and Wales leapt by 10% in the last year, continuing a consistent annual upward trend that saw a major spike after the 2016 referendum.

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A Home Office report shows that in 2018/19, 103,379 hate crimes were recorded, compared with 2017/18, 9,258 more than the year before.

Around three-quarters of these were racial hate crimes.

"While increases in hate crime over the last five years have been mainly driven by improvements in crime recording by the police, there have been spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017," said the report.

The spikes in hate crime show the numbers shoot up soon after the launch of the EU referendum campaign, and again after its result, in 2016.

Spikes in hate crimes also followed terror attacks in summer 2017, while another spike took place in July 2018.

Responding, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for home affairs, Christine Jardine, said: "There can be no doubt that divisive, inflammatory rhetoric from right-wing, pro-Brexit politicians - including Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage - has contributed to this shocking rise in hate crime.

"All of us with a public platform must stand up to those whose language spreads hate - whether on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or anything else.

"Liberal Democrats will tackle the appalling rise in hate crimes by making them all 'aggravated offences', so that hate crimes against women, LGBT+ people or people with disabilities are treated as severely as those motivated by racial or religious hatred.

"We will give the police the resources and training they need to identify and prevent hate crimes, and condemn politicians who use inflammatory language."

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