Record levels of hate crime were reported by three-quarters of police forces in England and Wales in the aftermath of last year’s EU referendum, new analysis has shown.
In some areas the number of incidents jumped by more than 50%.
But both Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire police forces say the rise is not down to Brexit but a rise in awareness of hate crime due to world events and discrimination against people with disabilities and the LGBT community.
Cambridgeshire saw a nine per cent rise in hate crime between July and September 2016, 179 recorded incidents, while Lincolnshire had 78 hate crime reports, up 59 per cent.
Detective Inspector Dean Wiffin from Cambridgeshire police said world events, such as the Orlando shooting and the murder of a Catholic priest in France, together with the reported increase in hate crimes following the EU Referendum may have left people feeling more vulnerable.
He added: “Although a rise in hate crime is always concerning, if these events have raised awareness and resulted in people reporting when they maybe wouldn’t have done so before, then it’s a good thing.
“Under-reporting is a factor we’re focusing on because, more often than not, those affected by hate crime are too frightened or intimidated to come forward or do not recognise they are victims.
“I would encourage victims, family members, carers and the public to help us tackle the problem by reporting incidents to the police or our partners. Everyone has the right to live without harassment or fear of crime.”
Chief Inspector Dan Whyment from Lincolnshire police said: “Lincolnshire saw a general rise in overall hate crime last year. However there was no sharp increase in racially or religiously motivated crime in the aftermath of ‘Brexit’.
“The increase in reporting comes against the backdrop of a multi-agency strategy and delivery plan which has since 2015 (pre dating Brexit) set out to tackle issues of under reporting amongst all hate crime victims. In fact the biggest increases in reporting have been seen from disability and LGBT strands within the community.
“In terms of looking ahead, Lincolnshire police are looking to build on existing community projects and have set out a community engagement plan to do just that. This work forms part of the wider partnership commitment to the hate crime delivery group. The continual efforts of all involved mean we have an existing healthy approach to Hate crime in Lincolnshire. Brexit and the knock on effects are of course a consideration, but I feel it is important to get the message across that these efforts are not a knee-jerk reaction. Rather a determined approach to be supportive of victims and communities and demonstrate Hate crime is not tolerated in Lincolnshire.
“If anyone wishes to report a hate crime please call the police on 101 (999 in emergencies)
“Alternatively contact www.stophateuk.org.”
The figures, compiled by the Press Association, provide the first complete picture of hate crime recorded by police in England and Wales following the referendum on June 23.
They show that in the three months ending September 2016:
:: 33 out of 44 forces recorded the highest quarterly number of hate crimes since comparable records began in April 2012
:: Three forces each recorded more than 1,000 hate crimes: the Metropolitan Police (3,356), Greater Manchester (1,033) and West Yorkshire (1,013)
:: Only four forces reported a decrease on the previous three months
The new analysis shows that a rise in incidents was seen in almost every force in England and Wales, both year-on-year and when comparing the three months either side of the referendum.
The Press Association also cross-referenced data on offences with the results of the EU referendum to see if there was any pattern to the level of hate crime.
In 36 police force areas, a majority of voters backed Leave in the referendum - and the quarterly hate crime figure rose in all of them except two.
The area with the biggest Leave vote, Lincolnshire, saw hate crimes jump by 59%.