In the week that has passed since the historic referendum in the United Kingdom, where voters chose to pull their country out of the European Union, reports of hate crime across the country have seen a surge. According to police officials Thursday, 331 hate crimes had been reported to the country’s online reporting site since June 23, compared with the weekly average of 63 reports.
The staggering 500 percent rise is only one of the indicators of hate crime, as reported on True Vision, a government-run website. But it supports the increasing amount of anecdotal accounts of xenophobic incidents from around the U.K. that reportedly targeted East Europeans, South Asians and Africans.
— Konrad Walewski (@KonradWalewski) June 26, 2016
#PostRefRacism So an elderly Indian woman is yelled at to leave the country on my own street, thanks Leavers
— Mehul Desai (@TechNoirUK) June 26, 2016
— Karissa Singh (@KarissaSingh) June 25, 2016
— Independence4 London (@Blick_Oyinbo) June 26, 2016
Police have asked people to report all such incidents, which will be investigated as hate crimes. According to Sara Thornton, chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the rise in hate crimes is partly because of the “extensive focus on this issue in the last few days.” She was referring to the anti-immigration talk that formed a large portion of the “leave” campaign’s propaganda.
Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party, was not a part of the official “leave” campaign but supported it vociferously. Days before the vote, Farage released a large poster that showed a seemingly endless stream of immigrants with the words: “Breaking point: the EU has failed us all.”
Farage has repeatedly defended the poster and said it was not racist, even though it showed mostly non-white people. Earlier this week, Prime Minister David Cameron — who has resigned because of the unexpected outcome of the referendum and will step down in October — condemned the crimes, calling them “appalling” and promising “a new action plan” to tackle them.
The recent spate of xenophobia seems to target anyone who doesn’t fit the abuser’s idea of English or British. It has targeted Muslims, black people, even those living in the country for more than a generation, as well as whites because their accent isn’t right.
Even as police is monitoring the situation, Amnesty International announced Tuesday it was launching an “emergency campaign to combat racism and xenophobia in the U.K., prompted by reports of a rise in racial abuse in the wake of the EU referendum.”
Susan Williams, an Irish-born minister in the government, said she believed the rise in xenophobic incidents was temporary.