Committee warned that Article 50 will trigger a new wave of hate crime

Written by James Millar on 10 January 2017 in News
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Yvette Cooper's home affairs select committee has heard evidence of increased hate crime attacks since the Brexit vote

Theresa May triggering Article 50 to begin the process of leaving the EU will bring a spike in hate crime according to campaigners

The Home Affairs Committee heard harrowing evidence of hate crimes following the Brexit vote at its latest hearing into the issue. Barbara Drozdowicz, chief executive of the East European Resource Centre, explained that her organisation was deluged with telephone calls and emails from immigrants who faced hostility immediately after the June 23 referendum. And she explained that every time Brexit hits the headlines again there is a spike in incidents and she expects another wave when the formal process of quitting the EU begins in the spring.

But Ms Drozdowicz also warned that hate crime is becoming so common and so poorly dealt with by the authorities that many people have given up reporting it. She told the committee chaired by Yvette Cooper of a Polish boy being beaten up at school on the day after the Brexit vote but teachers failing to react. And she recounted another incident that was reported but it took the police 12 weeks to take a statement from the victim.

Another witness, Taduesz Stenzel of the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, claimed that many people feel Eastern Europeans are "fair game" following the referendum and that bigots felt there was "less of a brake" on their behaviour since June.

Mr Stenzel and Joanna Mludzinska of the Polish Social and Cultural Association both claimed that many immigrants had faced bullying at work since the poll including hurtful comments from customers as well as discrimination by bosses

The witnesses called on Prime Minister Theresa May to announce that European nationals already in the UK would be allowed to stay claiming the measure would allay immigrants concerns and also reduce the level of hate crime.

Committee chair and former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the witnesses that the abuse they described was "deeply un-British and should have no place in this country."

In September the Polish foreign minister on a visit to London claimed there had been an "explosion" of hate crime against his countrymen since the Brexit vote. More than three thousand allegations were received by police in the weeks surrounding the referendum, a year on year increase of 42%.

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