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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

UK police told to prepare for hate crime surge with Brexit

Report highlights major problems with police response to attacks on racial minorities

British police have warned of a spike in hate crime with Brexit. EPA/ANDY RAIN
British police have warned of a spike in hate crime with Brexit. EPA/ANDY RAIN

British police have been told to prepare for a spike in hate crime when Britain leaves the European Union in 2019.

Attacks on racial minorities increased during the 2016 referendum campaign and officials have told forces to prepare for a similar surge if Britain leaves the EU as planned in March next year.

British Muslims and European families all suffered from increased hostility during the campaign two years ago that was dominated by arguments over British migration policy and control of its borders.

The warning by an official policing watchdog follows similar sharp increases in violence and abuse after events such as the murder of a British soldier by extremists in 2013 and the co-ordinated terrorist attacks on Paris in 2015.

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More than two-thirds of more 90,000 hate crimes recorded by police in Britain in 2016/17 were driven by race, according to the first in-depth study of the police handling of hate crime.

The government’s police watchdog found that in nearly half of all cases it examined, the response from police was not good enough – and raised concerns that government statistics used to gauge and tackle the problem were not up to the task.

“It’s difficult to have a definitive view as to the nature and extent of hate crime,” said lead inspector Wendy Williams. “The data is not 100 per cent reliable.”

Hate crime is described as an incident motivated by hostility to a personal characteristic such as race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

The report found forces failed to correctly record hate crimes, gather data about victims and gather intelligence.

Ms Williams said, however, that the omissions were not caused by ‘institutional racism,’ the damning finding of public inquiry into a botched London police investigation of a racist murder in 1993 that tarnished the reputation of policing for years.