A police-funded website has seen a 57% increase of reports on hate crime between June 23 and June 26, compared with the same period last month.
The UK’s vote to leave the EU has come as a shocker to many even as uncertainty looms over the next course of action. Fissures between the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ camp seem to be hardening with people simply not knowing what the future holds for them. The immediate fallout of the June 23 referendum was a $2 trillion fall in global markets with a sharp devaluation of sterling. Even as people come to term with the news of Britain’s impending departure, Brexit may have set the ball rolling for a chain of hate crimes.
The xenophobic and racist campaign of ‘leave’ politicians, who had spun the referendum debate around immigration, has exacerbated the disenchantment with immigrants. This suspicion and fear of ‘the other’ has become more evident post Brexit. For a long time, the EU was seen as the source of all miseries, from inflation to immigration to the sorry state of affairs. However, with changing dynamics and the EU all set to leave the stage, Britishers are now looking for a new scapegoat.
The aftermath of the Brexit has seen a spate in xenophobic attacks with an increase in online reporting of hate crimes. True Vision, a police-funded website, has seen a 57% increase in reports on hate crimes between between June 23 and June 26, compared with the same period last month. This is not a definitive national figure – reports are also made directly to police stations and community groups – but Stop Hate UK, a charity that provides support to people affected by hate crimes, has also seen an increase, while Tell Mama, an organisation tackling Islamophobia, which usually deals with 40-45 reports a month, received 33 within 48-72 hours.
Social media is being used to vent out vitriol with racial slurs being directed at individuals. So far not many significant cases of violence have been reported but in the current polarised atmosphere, the fear of threats escalating to direct violence looms large. Police have said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in a town in central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural centre in London on June 26, three days after the vote. Meanwhile, Islamic groups said there had been a sharp rise in incidents against Muslims.
After an attack on the Polish Embassy in London, Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the incidents in parliament.
“In the past few days we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, we’ve seen verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities,” Reuters reported Cameron as saying.
“We will not stand for hate crime or these kinds of attacks. They must be stamped out,” he added.
Many immigrants say that they are not new to hatred and bigotry based on region, religion but post Brexit the situation has become more tense. At a time when those who voted for Brexit also seem to be going through buyer’s remorse, its imperative that steps are taken to quell the heightened sense of insecurity.