Polish ambassador calls on government to condemn Brexit-related hate crimes

Police in Cambridgeshire say they have met with the Polish community after signs saying "No more Polish vermin" were allegedly handed out outside primary schools and posted through letter boxes

Rachael Pells
Tuesday 28 June 2016 10:47 BST
Polish ambassador calls on government to condemn Brexit-related hate crimes

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."

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.

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