Has Brexit really boosted racist hate crime?

New police data suggests a 'lasting rise'. What does the evidence show?


New police data suggests a rise in hate crimes after the EU referendum result compared with the year before.

As today’s Guardian reports, the latest numbers from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) show a ‘lasting rise’ in June to August 2016 against the same period in 2015.

The rise peaked in the sixth week after the referendum (22 to 28 July) at 58 per cent, but has since dropped in each week to 16 per cent for 12 to 17 August.

The police is therefore stopping weekly data reports from local forces and returning to their normal reporting procedures.


(Source: NPCC)

But if we zoom out from 2015 and 2016, does the picture look any different?

Home Office figures show there were 52,528 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2014/15 – an increase of 18 per cent vs 44,471 in 2013/14.

This includes a rise every month of the year, including the three months in question, but by smaller margins: June (13 per cent), July (5 per cent), August (11 per cent).

This suggests increases year-on-year are normal and may be due to a range of factors, including more reporting of hate crimes.

However, the size of the increases in the weeks following the EU referendum are much greater than in previous years.

A recent NPCC report for the Home Affairs Select Committee, (yes, the one until recently chaired by Keith Vaz MP), found 15,621 hate crimes reported between June 16 and August 25 – a 28 per cent increase on the previous year.

Further, 76 per cent of these were racist hate crimes, with 63 per cent of them involving violence against the person who reported the incident.

For the whole of 2014/15, 81 per cent were racist hate crimes, a rise of 15 per cent vs 2013/14.

So while we can’t know for sure how this year compares to previous years until we have data for all of 2015/16, the evidence suggests a higher than usual number of racist hate crimes in the weeks following the EU referendum.

This combined with a great deal of qualitative evidence from victims immediately after the result make it reasonable to draw links between Brexit and a rise in racist hate crime.

See: Brexit racism is real. Last night it happened to me.

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