8 Jul 2016

Brexit: Rise in hate crimes reported after vote

Tales of smashed car windows, children told to go home, a surge in citizenship inquiries, a mosque which cancelled Eid prayers for hundreds out of fear, and a patient in a doctor’s surgery telling her Asian GP to leave the country.

Some may be classified as hate incidents rather than crimes. They maybe considered low level but still symptomatic of communities becoming polarised. They brought some 40-50 worried community representatives for an emergency meeting at the Polish centre on the edge of the self declared city of sanctuary, Birmingham. They are people at the sharp end, the ones who reach out to migrants communities. There’s a man from the Hungarian community, another from the Bosnian area, a Slovakian nurse, and a woman from the citizens advice bureau.

‘The fear is real, the tension is real”, says one East European.

“I’ve had many inquiries from families asking the question is it safe. They want to know if they should be making plans to go. We don’t have an answer”.

They are part of a network, spread across Birmingham, looking after many of the EU citizens, and refugees who came to work, marry, and educate their children. And sitting among them is a West Midlands police sergeant, who’s responsible for the community links, anti social behaviour and hate crime.

He reassures the audience that in the West Midlands, where the majority voted leave, there’s been no spike in hate crime…that figures for the week before June 24th were no different to the week after.

He then goes on to explain there are 57 hate crime reporting centres dotted across the UK’s second largest city. On the surface it’s impressive but then one representative points out that many no longer function. It’s an old list and some of the centres have changed hands and the new arrivals are not even aware of the role in recording complaints of abuse. One begins to questions whether the police really know what’s going on in the neighbourhoods. A woman from Handsworth then makes the point that all the police community support officers in her area have gone so there’s no one to go to report incidents of racial malevolence.

Today the National Police Chiefs Council reported hate crime across the UK had gone up 46% in the two weeks either side of the Brexit vote, compared to the same period last year. That’s 912 more reported incidents. But is that a true picture?

If the migrant network meeting is anything to go by, there are many who are staying silent or simply don’t know where to go for help.

Nazek Ramadan, from Migrant Voice, which is organising a series of meetings across the UK ‘it’s not just people feeling unwelcome, they are now really scared for their children. This is not acceptable.”

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4 reader comments

  1. R Stewart says:

    The above report is an example of “journalism” at its worst. In its opening paragraph it claims:

    “Tales of smashed car windows, children told to go home, a surge in citizenship inquiries, a mosque which cancelled Eid prayers for hundreds out of fear, and a patient in a doctor’s surgery telling her Asian GP to leave the country.”

    Crucially there are no names given and no specific incidents detailed. So this is little more than hearsay and apart from quotes, no specific incident are provided anywhere in the report.

    This is not journalism but manufactured “news”, which is intended to sway people’s opinions. In an earlier age it was called propaganda but now it’s being peddled on behalf of the corporate groups, such as those that own Channel Four. So it’s no longer used to serve governmental or ideological interests.

    Instead it’s being used to further the interests of Channel 4’s corporate owners.

  2. Alan says:

    The author asks “But is that a true picture?” Given the media’s belief that only the old, poor and uneducated voted to leave, apparently not. I suspect the xenophobic/racist blame game will continue.

  3. Nicol Jenkins says:

    Have the amount of hate crimes risen or is it that since the referendum more people are coming forward ?. For all we really know it could be at the same level it’s always been. I can understand that hate crimes are not nice and shouldn’t happen but on the other hand when you can’t say anything without being called a racist and you feel like your country is not your own and other people’s needs come first, it’s not fair.

  4. H Statton says:

    People’s post referendum attitudes and the level of hate crimes is perhaps the same as pre-referendum, only time will tell. I’ve not felt a palpable difference in attitudes, but then I’m British, white, not ‘outstanding’ in anyway, and I live in a multicultural part of the UK.

    Any apparent increase may be as a result of some no longer being afraid to voice their underlying prejudices, the number of incidents reported/recorded, all embraced by a constantly speculative media. Twitter is as bonkers as ever.

    The actions of a few are demonising the many. An agitator is an agitator, but one thing for certain is the size of the attacks. More people are insulted, injured or in the extreme, killed during single attacks, while the actual number of attacks might remain the same. A repugnant word may become a punch in the face. A brick through a shop window may become an explosion in a warehouse. A Street in Greece may look like a street in the Middle East.

    Recent events may have inspired, galvanised the disillusioned, and emboldened would be agitators into action; I imagine security is tighter than ever. Though relative discontent is visible, no single community is responsible, and an authority hastily incriminating a minority group just for self-aggrandizement is deplorable. And what’s this about a “Muslim problem”?!

    If more than 50% of the population voted for the UK to leave the European Union, some of them might validate in their own minds, ‘it’s not just me; half of the country feels the same way’ towards immigration. It does not.

    At first I was uncertain how to vote because I am not an economist, but my gut feeling was to vote remain. After all, I was more than aware the No vote might start a vast realignment in Europe if not change the state tectonics of the world. But my decision was not based on a knee-jerk reaction, or on immediate anger. I tried to focus on the bigger picture.

    Over 50% of the country voting No does not mean the country is intolerant or xenophobic. Equally, it does not mean that the other ‘half’ of the population does not contain capitalists that have financial interests, exploit cheap labour, so voted remain to preserve them. They may be unapologetically xenophobic.

    Also, the referendum result does not reflect the entire picture; it is too complex for that, and the feeling of the people sways like the union jack in the wind. Cameron in no. 10 with a majority at the last general election has orchestrated his own downfall, and will most likely have it as his epitaph. To promise an angry volatile mob the referendum when he did was astonishingly ill-considered.

    The likes of Nigel ‘I don’t want Romanians as my neighbours’ Farage on-going anti-immigration narrative convinced enough that every problem in the UK is directly or indirectly down to immigration; and a confidence in, ‘safety in numbers’ was cultivated in those that believed it. Immigration was always the lowest common denominator. The level of bulls*** was astounding. And in back-tracking he tried too hard to hide his true prejudices.

    UKip is like a polished version of other established nationalist groups such as BNP (UK), Jobbik (Hungary), Golden Dawn (Greece), National Front (France), National Democratic Party (Germany) etc. Are we seeing a renaissance of Oswald Mosely-types and the Cable Street riots, or a Powell’s “Rivers of blood” world view?

    There is ignorance, misinformation, delusion, name-calling, propaganda, and ultimately aggravation and violence. The same thing is being seen in America and the likes of Trump are dishing it out with impunity.

    But never mind that people were lied to or didn’t understand the EU situation, the fact is Brexit has happened (sort of). This in NO WAY justifies aggression never mind hate crime. Extreme right-wing parties love to display words such as freedom, justice, liberation, alliance, at the top of their curriculum vitae, but these parties actually embody the very antithesis of these words.

    But when living in our democracy, the Remain campaign losing/ Brexit campaign winning, another referendum cannot be called for by the losing side. If your football-team losses you cannot demand a replay just because you didn’t win; you cannot keep playing until you get the result you want. It may be a bitter pill but you have to swallow it.

    The people were asked a yes or no question; they voted no. They voted to leave the European Union. Now we have to live with it. Although I voted to remain, I find it unpalatable to see oily politicians wanting to stay ‘friends’ with the European bloc, ‘we want to be part of the club, but we also want x, y, and z too’. You should have thought of that first, Boris, before you became the poster boy for the Brexit campaign. And what he is doing as foreign secretary?!

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