Police chief says incidents of hate crime ‘beginning to fall again’ after post referendum surge

Chief Constable Alec Wood

Chief Constable Alec Wood - Credit: Archant

The chief constable for Cambridgeshire has welcomed figures which show a reduction in hate crime across the region, after incidents almost doubled from last year.

Alec Wood said that after the referendum on membership of the European Union in June, forces nationwide saw a spike in the hate-fuelled crimes, but that numbers are now beginning to fall again.

“Locally we have carried out a lot of work with the community to raise awareness of the work we are doing and increase the public’s confidence in reporting offences,” said Chief Constable Alec Wood.

“We are proud of our strong community relationships and are focused on tackling hate crime at a local and force-wide level.”

Just hours after the referendum result was announced on June 24, laminated pieces of card saying ‘Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin’, also written in Polish on the back, were found in Huntingdon.

And in that month alone, 92 hate crimes were reported to Cambridgeshire police, compared to just 46 in the same month in 2015.

July was even higher with 107 reports – up 85% from 58 last year.

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The leaflets had been left outside a school in Huntingdon, as well as posted through letterboxes.

Although reports of hate crime are still high, with 70 incidents for August compared to just 51 last year, police say hate crime is now starting to decline and that there is a strong conviction rate for incidents at 88 per cent.

Mr Wood said: “Although we are now seeing levels return to those formerly experienced before Brexit we will continue to take a robust approach in dealing swiftly with hate crime.”

The chief constable also said that gaining people’s trust was important to encouraging communities to come forward, especially as Brexit talks pick up pace.

He said: “I think we need to be very mindful during those times particularly when there’s lots of publicity or criticism, and I don’t know if this will happen, around the terms of our Brexit that we make sure we are very visible and available to the communities that are potentially most at risk from responses to that.”