Source: The Guardian
By Vikram Dodd
Police and crime correspondent
Police believe the spike in hate crime following the EU referendum was the worst on record.
Mark Hamilton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said: “I believe the referendum debate has led to an increase in reporting of hate crime. It is very clear in the last couple of weeks that more people have been aware of experiencing such incidents than we have had before.”
Reports to police increased by 42%, to more than 3,000 allegations of hate crime across Britain in the week before and the week after the 23 June vote. “It’s probably the worst spike,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, who is also assistant chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said an increased likelihood of reporting incidents, as well as an increase in incidents, accounted for the spike.
He said there was a direct link to the vote. “Some people took that as a licence to behave in a racist or other discriminatory way. We can not divorce the country’s reaction to the referendum and the increase in hate crime reporting.”
Offences were mainly harassment and threats of a racist nature, said Hamilton, directed against “visible minorities” as well as people from eastern Europea. He said the number of reports had fallen in recent days and was returning to what police were used to.
There were geographical variations in the spike. Increases were seen in the Metropolitan police area, covering London, home to the largest population of ethnic minorities. Avon and Somerset police, covering Bristol and the west country, and Greater Manchester police recorded higher numbers of reported hate crime, while in one force area the rate dropped marginally.
Police figures released on Friday showed a large rise in reported incidents, averaging more than 200 a day. Police said 3,076 hate crimes and incidents were reported to forces across the UK between 16 and 30 June; one week before and one week after the vote on 23 June.