JUST has written to the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson to express our deep concern over the recent increase in racist incidents following the outcome of the referendum vote. We have urged him to take concrete action to protect the safety of minority communities in the region.
In the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union last week, the National Police Chiefs Council has reported a 57% increase in reports of hate crime to True Vision, the police online hate crime reporting site. The figures reported to the Police are likely to be an underestimate as most racist hate crimes go unreported.
JUST condemns the use of immigration by the Leave campaigners to exploit public concerns over struggling public services, low wages and the lack of opportunity in many of the country’s most deprived areas. The rhetoric used by the ‘Brexiters’ of “taking our country back” from “them” by “regaining control of our borders” has helped create a climate where xenophobia and racism have become legitimised. There are already signs that the far right is targeting vulnerable minority communities and it is likely that community tension will increase in the months to come.
According to Nadeem Murtuja, the Chair of JUST West Yorkshire,
‘A vote for Brexit is not a vote for racism. It is clear that since the referendum some people think they have a free license to abuse without consequences. At this difficult time it is important that the police, local councils and public bodies remain extra vigilant and ensure that they send out a message in the strongest possible terms that racist incidents will be dealt with. All possible steps should be taken to ensure that vulnerable communities report verbal and physical attacks to the police and hate crime reporting centres.’
JUST West Yorkshire’s correspondence to the Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson seeks clarification on police measures that have been set in place in response to the increase in racist incidents. We include a copy of our correspondence and urge Yorkshire communities to support our call for the implementation of proactive measures to keep minority communities in the region safe.
Dear Mr. Williamson,
Following recent reports of increase in hate crime incidents following the Brexit vote, I would be grateful if you could clarify the measures West Yorkshire police have put in place to ensure that there is a robust hate-crime reporting strategy and response in place.
1. Has there been an increase in hate crime (Racist and Islmaphobic) incidents that have been reported to West Yorkshire Police?
2. If so, what are current trends showing and what are the numbers involved?
3. Has there been an increase in hate crime (Racist and Islmaphobic) that has been reported to the hate crime reporting centres across West Yorkshire?
4. If so, what are current trends showing and what are the numbers involved?
5. Have you sent any guidance to the existing hate crime reporting centres around increased vigilance and the need to encourage victims to report hate crimes in the present climate?
6. I would be grateful if you could send us any correspondence/advice that has been sent out.
7. Could you confirm where the hate crime centres are located in West Yorkshire please?
8. Have you or are you proposing to make a public statement stating in the strongest terms that hate/Islamphobic crime will not be tolerated and will be dealt with firmly?
9. Has the police convened a meeting with public bodies to develop a joined-up hate-crime reporting strategy to ensure that victims are being given relevant information and support?
10. Please clarify what meetings have taken place / or is being proposed?
11. Does West Yorkshire Police have intelligence / information on whether Far Right groups are proposing to target West Yorkshire, particularly in areas which have large refugee/BME/migrant communities?
12. How is West Yorkshire Police working with communities to mitigate potential outbreak of violence or the breakdown of community cohesion?
You will appreciate that following the Brexit vote and the increase in incidents of hate crime, minority communities are feeling particularly vulnerable and the implementation of proactive strategies is going to be crucial to ensure that communities feel safe.
The questions we have fielded above follows discussions we have been having with minority communities. We will be circulating this email to BME organisations for their information. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.
I would be grateful if you could respond at your earliest convenience please.
JUST West Yorkshire