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South Yorkshire Police called to more racist hate crimes after spike around Brexit vote

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South Yorkshire Police are having to deal with more racist hate crimes, following a rise in offences around the EU referendum, figures show.

The latest Home Office data shows an increase in the number hate crimes reported to the police, where race is the motivating factor, during the year of the Brexit vote.

In the 2016-17 financial year, 1,288 incidents were recorded by South Yorkshire Police, where someone was abused or attacked due to their race. The referendum was in June 2016.

That is a 61% increase on the previous year, when 798 cases were recorded.

A Home Office report states that, while the police have improved their recording methods, “part of the increase is due to a genuine increase in hate crime, particularly around the time of the EU Referendum”.

Rose Simkins, chief executive of Stop Hate UK, said it was “now an indisputable fact” that racist incidents have risen since the Brexit vote.

She explained: “Our own figures, from the period 2016-17, also support this trend where, after several years of disability being the biggest motivating factor, there was a clear shift towards race being the biggest factor.

“Also, after the referendum, many more people reported suffering hate for the first time, as deep-rooted prejudices surfaced and manifested themselves as abuse and threats to innocent members of the public.”

The figures also show a rise in Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime, where religion was a motivating factor.

South Yorkshire Police recorded 39 cases in 2016-17, four more than the previous year.

Ms Simkins commented that while reporting and recording of hate crime has improved, she still believes there is a large disparity between the actual number of incidents and the number reported to the police.

She added: “It is vital that the police and authorities make use of the advice, support and training available from specialist third party organisations, such as Stop Hate UK and that, collectively, we adopt a collaborative approach to tackling hate crime.

“We still need many more resources to help close the disparity between the number of incidents happening to those reported, and to increase public confidence that an incident, or perceived incident, is worth reporting in the first place.”

The total number of hate crime cases in South Yorkshire increased by 617 in 2016-17, with racist offences making up the majority of those.

Incidents where disability is the motivating factor have also risen, from 41 in 2015-16 to 107 in the latest figures. Phil Talbot, from disability charity Scope, commented: “It’s alarming that thousands of disabled people are being targeted in this way because of their impairment or condition. We encourage everyone to report these despicable crimes to the authorities, so those responsible can be caught and prosecuted.”