Leeds councillor warns hate crime is under-reported as national figures reveal post-Brexit spike

National figures have revealed a significant rise in hate crime following the EU referendum result.
National figures have revealed a significant rise in hate crime following the EU referendum result.
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More than 3,000 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police across the UK in the second half of June – a jump of 42 per centre compared to last year.

New figures have revealed the daily rate peaked at 289 alleged offences on June 25, the day after the result of the EU referendum was announced.

The data published today by the National Police Chiefs’ Council has given the most comprehensive insight into the nationwide picture so far.

But the true scale could be even greater, a Leeds City councillor warned earlier this week.

The issue was raised during a meeting of the council’s Environment and Housing Scrutiny Board yesterday when councillors spoke about their concerns.

Last month two people were arrested over a racially-aggravated incident against Polish shopkeeper Marek Petzold in Bramley Shopping Centre.

Coun Kevin Ritchie (Bramley and Stanningley) told the meeting: “The community response to that has been absolutely fantastic. He’s been inundated with cards and support from the community.”

But he said the frequency of incidents taking place in the city should not be underestimated.

“I think it’s important we recognise this is something massively under-reported, particularly if someone shouts abuse out of a car and drive away,” he said. “I’m hearing that from constituents who aren’t immigrants, they’re second generation. It’s not a great news story, but it’s out there in our community.”

Coun Michael Lyons (Temple Newsam) added: “In my ward, we’ve got a lot of low level hate. Shouting across the street, thinking they can say what they like on buses. It’s all low level that you wouldn’t even call the police out to.

“Lots of the comments have come about in the last fortnight. What they’re saying is ‘get back to your own country’ to people who are born here and live here. It’s happening on a regular basis. A lot of normal people think they’ve got the right to say whatever they like to people they think shouldn’t be in this country.”

Chief Superintendent Sam Millar, of the Leeds Community Safety team, said: “I think we are seeing reports of the kind of incidents we don’t want on our streets.”

But she said there had not been a significant rise in the recorded hate crime in the city since the referendum result.

“I don’t think anybody would be surprised to know this is quite a hot topic at the moment. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether we’re seeing a spike. We’re not seeing these numbers translated through [into reports of crime].”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said its figures showed 3,076 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police across the UK between June 16 and 30.

This was an increase of 915, or 42 per cent, compared with last year.

The NPCC said the main type of offence reported over the fortnight was “violence against the person”, which includes harassment and common assault, as well as verbal abuse, spitting and “barging”.

The second and third most prevalent incidents were public order offences and criminal damage.

At the peak, on June 25 2016, 289 alleged offences occurred across the UK.

It said that there has been a marked decrease in reports but weekly figures will continue to be collated to monitor the situation.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, NPCC lead for hate crime, said: “We now have a clear indication of the increases in the reporting of hate crime nationally and can see that there has been a sharp rise in recent weeks.

“This is unacceptable and it undermines the diversity and tolerance we should instead be celebrating. We believe that greater awareness and confidence in the police response has contributed to this increase in reporting.”

Here in West Yorkshire, police and crime commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson has been working with police to promote methods for reporting hate crime.

He said: “I recognise that the recent local, national and international events impact our communities, but I want to offer reassurance that myself and the Temporary Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Dee Collins, are committed to working together to tackle these issues head on.

“To that end we have an ongoing awareness raising campaign “Hate Hurts” and at the very heart of that campaign is the message that everyone has a right to feel safe and no one should ever be a victim of hate crime because of their disability, gender, identity, race, religion, sexual orientation or because of how they choose to dress.

“I encourage anyone affected by hate crime and hate incidents to come forward and report it and know that if they do, we will take every report seriously and investigate thoroughly, putting appropriate support in place for any victims.”

Click here to find out more about reporting hate crime in West Yorkshire.