POLICE officers have been put on alert following the dramatic rise in race-related hate crime, which has shot up 57 per cent following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Political leaders have condemned the spate of troubling incidents which have seen Asian and Polish communities being targeted following the referendum.
There was a 57 per cent hike in reported racist incidents between last Thursday (23) and Sunday (26) compared with the same days four weeks earlier, according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
During this time, 85 incidents were reported compared with 54 during the earlier period. “It’s no coincidence this has come off the back of the EU vote,” a police source said.
London’s new mayor Sadiq Khan said he had put the capital’s police on alert for racially motivated attacks.
“It’s important we stand guard against any rise in hate crimes or abuse by those who might use the referendum as cover to seek to divide us,” he said.
“I’ve asked our police to be extra vigilant for any rise in cases of hate crime, and I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together and rally behind this great city.”
Prime minister David Cameron said he would not tolerate any intolerance.
The former chair of the Arts Council black workers group told Eastern Eye about the racist abuse she suffered in Birmingham last Sunday.
Shine Duggal said she was called a “f***ing p**i” and told to get out of “our” country by two young white men on motorcycles whose faces were covered with bandannas.
Duggal said she was “shocked and upset” by the incident because Brexit had given “licence to certain sections of the community to feel that they could now willfully and lawfully be racist to people of colour”.
Thugs brandishing a metal pole targeted Duggal in Acocks Green. She was with her 16-year-old daughter, who has never experienced overt racism in her lifetime.
The former specialist in diversity and race equality for the Arts Council in the West Midlands said parents would have to sit down with their children and talk to them about the possible dangers they could face in the current climate.
She was verbally abused as she was driving towards her friend’s house about four miles south of the city centre.
Recalling the traumatic incident, Duggal said: “They were riding up and down the pavement really close to my friend’s husband, it looked very aggressive,” she recounted.
“I went to turn my car around to park outside their house, and as I was turning, they were in front of me. My windows were open and they started shouting: ‘You f***ing P**i, get out of our country’ and they were brandishing a big steel pole. I just started reversing and they said: ‘Come on then, do you want some as well?’”
Duggal did not report the incident to the police because she was unable to get the number plates of the perpetrators.
Describing the attack as a “real kick in the gut”, she took to Facebook to write about her ordeal and was astonished to hear that several friends from all over the UK had experienced similar outbursts following last Friday’s result.
In total, 52 per cent of the population elected for the UK to leave the 28-member bloc, with the remaining 42 per cent voting to remain in a reformed EU.
Lord Navnit Dholakia, who worked for the Commission for Racial Equality in the 1970s, told Eastern Eye he was very worried about the future of the country following the spate of attacks.
“One of the things the referendum has unleashed is the extent to which xenophobia and matters relating to controls on immigration were repeatedly highlighted, and that has had serious repercussions.
“It has created unease among minority communities, attacks have risen, and there is every evidence that this is going to continue until positive measures are taken to contain this.”
The Liberal Democrat peer added that many of the victims verbally abused over the past week were second or third generation immigrants who had grown up in this country.
“We have taken a step backwards. It has brought us back to the early days of immigration, what we went through about 30-40 years ago.
“People who are born in this country are as British as anybody else, and we cannot afford to have the unease among communities who have made so much contribution to the country,” Lord Dholakia said.
Twitter users took to the social media site to discuss racist incidents using the hashtag #PostRefRacism this week.
BBC Radio 4 journalist Sima Kotecha spoke of her utter shock after being called a “P**i” by a Brexit supporter during a report on immigration.
The Today programme reporter heard the racial slur by a resident in her home town of Basingstoke. “In utter shock: just been called ‘p**i’ in my hometown!,” Kotecha wrote on Twitter, adding “Haven’t heard that word here since the 80s..!”
She later tweeted the support she received from the public after discussing the incident online made her proud to be British.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella group for organisations which represent Muslims in the country, said more than 100 hate crimes had been reported since the result of the referendum.
“Our country is experiencing a political crisis which, I fear, threatens the social peace,” said Shuja Shafi, the MCB secretary general.
Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, which monitors attacks on Muslims, said it had received 30 reports of racist incidents. This included a Muslim councillor in Wales who was told to pack her bags, and two men shouting: “We voted for you being out” at a Muslim woman wearing a hijab on her way to a mosque in London.
“The Brexit vote seems to have given courage to some with deeply prejudicial and bigoted views that they can air them and target them at predominantly
Muslim women and visibly different settled communities,” Mughal said.
Labour MP Seema Malhotra said in her Feltham and Heston constituency she had heard about Asian children who had been racially abused.
The Polish community has also been discriminated against in the past week with a community centre in London being daubed with graffiti. The country’s embassy in the UK said it was shocked at incidents of xenophobic abuse, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was alarmed by reports of harassment and abuse.
Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, David Isaac, said the referendum vote showed that the overwhelming majority wanted to engage in the democratic process, which was heartening.
“But the campaign and the result have resulted in divisions in our society which will take efforts to heal. We and our political leaders need to pull together to unite the country against racism, hatred and intolerance,” Isacc said.