The Polish ambassador has called on the government to condemn a series of hate crimes sparked by the EU referendum result, including reports of anti-Polish signs left outside primary schools in Cambridgeshire.
Hours after Friday’s results were announced, police were called out to investigate reports that signs reading “No more Polish vermin” had been distributed through peoples’ doors and posted outside local primary schools.
The cards read in full: “Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin”, with a translation in Polish on the reverse.
Police officers in Cambridgeshire said they are working closely with the local community and are “doing everything possible to ensure those responsible are caught”.
A number of the signs were found outside St Peter’s School in Huntingdon, a student told Cambridge News. Sightings had also been reported at neighbouring schools in the area.
The 11-year-old pupil said: “The teaching assistants were picking them up and throwing them away because they thought they were racist”.
The student, who is Polish, said he felt the cards were racist too and that his mother had reported them to the police. “I felt really sad,” he said.
Adriana Chodakowska, editor of UK-based Polish news site Londynek, said the Polish community had received a barrage of abuse since Friday's result.
Speaking to The Independent about the "No more Polish vermin" signs, she said: "Of course I don't have to tell you how shocked we are. People are afraid of their future and many Polish families are scared because their children attend British schools. As we know, children may be cruel and they listen what their parents say at home."
"We have already some signals from our users that the day after the referendum their child was told by other pupils to get ready to go home. Another one was told not to go back after holidays, 'otherwise we kill you', they said."
"It is really hard to calm people down in such circumstances."
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
6 ways Britain leaving the EU will affect you
1/6 More expensive foreign holidays
The first practical effect of a vote to Leave is that the pound will be worth less abroad, meaning foreign holidays will cost us more
2/6 No immediate change in immigration status
The Prime Minister will have to address other immediate concerns. He is likely to reassure nationals of other EU countries living in the UK that their status is unchanged. That is what the Leave campaign has said, so, even after the Brexit negotiations are complete, those who are already in the UK would be allowed to stay
3/6 Higher inflation
A lower pound means that imports would become more expensive. This is likely to mean the return of inflation – a phenomenon with which many of us are unfamiliar because prices have been stable for so long, rising at no more than about 2 per cent a year. The effect may probably not be particularly noticeable in the first few months. At first price rises would be confined to imported goods – food and clothes being the most obvious – but inflation has a tendency to spread and to gain its own momentum
4/6 Interest rates might rise
The trouble with inflation is that the Bank of England has a legal obligation to keep it as close to 2 per cent a year as possible. If a fall in the pound threatens to push prices up faster than this, the Bank will raise interest rates. This acts against inflation in three ways. First, it makes the pound more attractive, because deposits in pounds will earn higher interest. Second, it reduces demand by putting up the cost of borrowing, and especially by taking larger mortgage payments out of the economy. Third, it makes it more expensive for businesses to borrow to expand output
5/6 Did somebody say recession?
Mr Carney, the Treasury and a range of international economists have warned about this. Many Leave voters appear not to have believed them, or to think that they are exaggerating small, long-term effects. But there is no doubt that the Leave vote is a negative shock to the economy. This is because it changes expectations about the economy’s future performance. Even though Britain is not actually be leaving the EU for at least two years, companies and investors will start to move money out of Britain, or to scale back plans for expansion, because they are less confident about what would happen after 2018
6/6 And we wouldn’t even get our money back
All this will be happening while the Prime Minister, whoever he or she is, is negotiating the terms of our future access to the EU single market. In the meantime, our trade with the EU would be unaffected, except that companies elsewhere in the EU may be less interested in buying from us or selling to us, expecting tariff barriers to go up in two years’ time. Whoever the Chancellor is, he or she may feel the need to bring in a new Budget
As the biggest Polish website in the UK, Ms Chodakowska said Londynek was in the process of explain the potential effects of Brexit to concerned readers. "We try to explain to our users everything we can - about the European Union, about the complicated process of Brexit - but the atmosphere right now is very tense and we all have to wait until it calms down," she said.
"We can't fall into paranoia and give up to negative emotions."
Police in London have launched an appeal after offensive graffiti was found scrawled on the front of the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith on Saturday. Officers said the incident was being treated as a hate-crime due to the "racially aggravated nature of the criminal damage".
A single male suspect was captured on CCTV at 5.22am on Saturday, seen wearing an orange jacket and grey hoodie. Police have asked for anyone with information concerning the incident to speak to the Ravenscroft Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team or contact Crimestoppers anonymously.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, David Cameron said: “I spoke to the Polish Prime Minister this afternoon to say how concerned I was about the terrible attacks that have taken place, and to reassure her we are doing everything we can to protect Polish citizens in our country”.
Polish ambassador Witold Sobków posted on Twitter that he expects the British government to condemn the acts and that the matter was due to be discussed in the coming days.