In Brief

Police warned of likely post-Brexit surge in hate crime

Watchdog finds large-scale failings in forces’ responses to such attacks

Police forces across the UK are being urged to prepare for an expected rise in hate crime when Britain exits the European Union next year.

A new report by the police watchdog notes that during the 2016 referendum campaign, there was a surge in reports of attacks motivated by factors such as race or religion - and criticises the police response at that time. These failings urgently need to be addressed ahead of Brexit, warns Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Government figures show that reports of hate crimes jumped from 42,255 in 2012-13 to 80,393 in 2016-17, says The Guardian. And experts fear the true figures may be far higher, with many racially or religiously motivated attacks going unreported or not being flagged as hate crimes.

British Muslims in particular are facing growing hostility amid the ongoing arguments over British migration policy.

Yet despite the increase in such crimes, the watchdog found that in more than half of the 180 cases it examined, the police response was inadequate, with “evidence of delays and lack of action”. Victims also face a “postcode lottery”, with wide variations across the country in the response to and designation of attacks.  

According to the report, the first of its kind, there is a “real possibility” that there will be a further increase in hate crime when, as is anticipated by the Government, the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019, says the BBC.

Suresh Grover of charity The Monitoring Group, which supports people who have suffered racial hatred, said: “There is an alarming and worsening situation for victims of race hate crimes over the last two years. We dealt with over 300 cases. Many of our clients do not get the support they need. In most cases, evidence is not collated promptly and the [authorities] communication with them is poor.”

“This is leading to a breakdown in trust,” he added.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on hate crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said that the watchdog’s “recommendations will help us to address inconsistencies around the country and provide a more effective response to victims”.

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