Brexit vote linked to rise in racist hate crimes in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Police are having to deal with more racist hate crimes, following a rise in offences around the EU referendum, Home Office figures show.

Police have seen a rise in the number of racist hate crime incidents. Photo: Marisa Cashill

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, 256 incidents were recorded by Lincolnshire Police, where someone was abused or attacked due to their race.

The referendum was in June 2016.

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That is a 21 per cent increase on the previous year, when 211 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 said: “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.”

The figures surprisingly show a fall in Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime, where religion was a motivating factor. Lincolnshire Police recorded 33 cases in 2016-17, eight more than the previous year.

Ms Simkins commented that while reporting and recording of hate crime has improved, she still believes there is a large disparity between the actual number of incidents and the number reported to the police.She added: “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.”

The total number of hate crime cases in Lincolnshire increased by 77 in 2016-17, with racist offences making up the majority of those. Incidents where disability is the motivating factor have also risen, from 36 in 2015-16 to 57 in the latest figures.

Phil Talbot, from disability charity Scope, commented: “It’s alarming that thousands of disabled people are being targeted in this way because of their impairment or condition.“We encourage everyone to report these despicable crimes to the authorities, so those responsible can be caught and prosecuted.”