The number of reported hate crimes in England and Wales in the six weeks surrounding the referendum was 35 percent higher than in the equivalent weeks of 2015, according to figures collected by the National Police Chiefs Council.
Hate crime reported to the NPCC spiked in the week following the referendum, with 1,831 incidents. This was 46 percent higher than the number of incidents in the same week of 2015. It also represented a 32 percent jump on the number of reported incidents the week before the referendum.
Even then, the 1,388 reported incidents in the week of 17-23 June were 27 percent higher than the equivalent week of 2015.
After a slight decline – but remaining significantly up on 2015 – the number of incidents spiked again in the week after the attack in the French city of Nice, when a cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day with the death of 86 people and 307 injured.
A report by the monitoring group PostRefRacism notes that in 51 percent of the hate crimes, perpetrators referred specifically to the referendum. “These [references] most commonly involved the phrases ‘Go Home’ (74 stories), ‘Leave’ (80 stories), ‘f*** off’ (45 stories),” the report says. “These were followed up by statements such as ‘we voted you out’, ‘we’re out of the EU now, we can get rid of ‘your lot’’, ‘when are you going home?’, ‘shouldn’t you be packing your bags?’ This is perhaps most indicative of just how intimately the rise in xeno-racist hate crimes was linked to the referendum and pervasive anti-immigrant narratives used by the Leave campaign.”
The NPCC figures are much higher than those recorded on the True Vision online police portal in the week following the referendum. It catalogued 331 incidents, which made headlines because it was a 400 percent increase on the weekly average of 63.
The NPCC has yet to release its statistics for August, so it remains to be seen whether the spike in recorded hate crimes is a short-lived reaction to the Brexit result or whether the bar for a ‘typical’ level of hate crime has been raised in a more lasting way.
Liz Fekete, director of the Institute of Race Relations, said recently: “One of the things that has become clear is that the hostile environment that has been an official aim of policy for the last few years is ‘coming home’. If a ‘hostile environment’ is embedded politically, it can’t be a surprise that it takes root culturally.”