Thursday 30 June 2016

Hate crime is unacceptable but police are not reporting an increase after the referendum

The media have been reporting an increase in hate crime since the EU referendum last week with the finger of blame pointed at Brexit and the Leave campaign using immigration as one of its campaign tools.

We reached out to a number of police forces via social media and have had a few responses.

West Mercia Police initially said there was a "slight increase in hate crime" but that it was "unconfirmed whether connected". They have since released a correction saying that reports of hate crime are actually slightly lower since the referendum. West Midlands Police said they "have not seen any notable increase in hate crimes since the referendum" whilst Sussex Police said they "haven't seen an increase in hate crimes reported following the EU referendum" and that there had been one incident reported to them.

This is only three police forces so it's impossible to get a full picture for the whole country but it does cover Birmingham with its large immigrant population, the rural counties of West Mercia and the leafy suburbs and villages of Sussex.

The story originally came the National Police Chiefs' Council and sections have been picked out to suit the agenda of the newspaper or news channel reporting on it. They said "there have been no major spikes in tensions reported" but there had been a 57% increase in reports of hate crime through a website that it runs compared to the corresponding 4 day period four weeks previously. This has ended up, by way of Chinese whispers and lazy and biased reporting, as being a 57% increase in hate crimes sparking an epidemic across the country. The NPCC said "This should not be read as a national increase in hate crime of 57% but an increase in reporting through one mechanism". They go on to say "This is similar to the trends following other major national or international events. In previous instances, crime levels returned to normal relatively quickly but we are monitoring the situation closely".

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said that hate crimes had increased in the capital since the referendum but Met Police haven't issued a statement to back that up. Essex Police have said they have seen an increase in reports of hate crime but a lot of those are complaining about Nigel Farage so are almost certainly part of a left wing hate campaign targeting him. We have yet to find a police force reporting an increase in hate crimes related to the referendum. We have seen a lot of reports of death threats against Nigel Farage and offensive, discriminatory comments against older people but the police don't appear to be interested in those.

Hate crimes are wrong whenever they happen and in whatever volumes but the reality is that hate crimes happen every day, they were happening before the referendum and sadly they will continue to happen in future. The EU referendum does not appear to have contributed to an increase in hate crimes despite press reports to the contrary.