Police must brace for spike in hate crime after Brexit, English force watchdog warns
HMIC predicts another surge in hate crime after the UK leaves the EU
EDL march, Newcastle - credit Gavin Lynn
Police must be prepared for a possible surge in hate crime after Brexit, an English police watchdog has warned.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said forces in England and Wales had fallen short in their handling of the issue - with 89 inadequate responses out of 180 cases reviewed.
It revealed a postcode lottery in the correct designation of incidents as hate crimes, and said police took an average of five days to see 73 victims while 65 were not seen at all.
In a new report, the watchdog said hate crimes rose in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum and could do so again when the UK quits the EU in March 2019.
"Police forces should prepare for this eventuality and make sure that the recommendations in this report are used in the future to improve the police response to hate crime victims," it said.
Victims of hate crime are targeted for their race, disability, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
Hate crimes accounted for 2 per cent of all recorded offences in England and Wales in 2016-17, but the number of recorded incidents rose 57 per cent compared with the year before.
According to HMIC, more people were coming forward to report hate crimes and recording practices have improved, but there has also been a rise in offences.
Meanwhile, the watchdog found more than 3,000 racially or religiously aggravated offences recorded by police were not flagged as hate crimes.
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