Race hate crimes soar on UK railways in aftermath of Brexit vote

'We need the public to stand up to those committing these sickening acts,' says senior police officer

Will Worley
Monday 22 August 2016 08:59
Hate crime increased on the railways following the Brexit vote
Hate crime increased on the railways following the Brexit vote

A "very worrying" spike in the number of race hate crimes was reported on British railways following the vote to leave the European Union.

The number of incidents was up 78 per cent on the same period in 2015, prompting police to urge the public to report any incidents they witness.

Data obtained by the Press Association after a Freedom of Information request showed that in the two weeks after the referendum, British Transport Police (BTP) recorded 119 incidents including allegations of racist abuse and attacks at stations - equivalent to eight every day.

In comparison, 76 hate crimes were recorded between 10 June and the day of the referendum on 23 June, and 67 between 24 June and 7 July in 2015.

Public order crimes were the most commonly recorded incidents, with dozens of suspects said to have made racist comments towards passengers or staff.

However, there were three alleged cases of racially or religiously aggravated actual bodily harm, including one in which the victim was "perceived to be attacked due to their nationality".

The BTP’s Superintendent Chris Horton described hate crime as “totally unacceptable” and said it had no place in society or on the rail network.

He added: "We are aware that hate crime is under-reported and so in order to tackle it effectively, we need the public to stand up to those committing these sickening acts and report it to us. We will take every report seriously.

"We will always work tirelessly to ensure those who threaten or intimidate passengers are brought to justice."

Bruce Williamson, of campaign group Railfuture, said: "Every passenger should be able to enter a station and board a train without fear of abuse or worse.

"These latest figures are very worrying, and they highlight the continuing need for staff presence at stations and on board trains."

Rose Simkins, chief executive of charity Stop Hate UK, said: "While we are encouraged that people have found confidence to report incidents due to the national publicity on the issue, it is a sad fact that the numbers of all hate incidents are extremely under-reported.

"We consistently hear from victims that one of the reasons they do not report incidents is a lack of confidence in authorities to deal with the issue.

"We would encourage the British Transport Police (BTP) to look closely at the type of incidents being reported and take the opportunity to assess how effective their hate crime strategies are."

In the month following the referendum, there were 6,000 alleged hate crimes and incidents reported. These included swastikas being daubed in various UK cities, dog excrement shoved through letter boxes in Rugby and letters given to immigrants which said “F*** off to Poland”.

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