Three signs the Tory government isn’t prepared for ‘Brexit hate crime’

The police watchdog warned that leaving the EU could lead to a rise in hate crimes. Here's why things would be even worse than they seem.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published a report today pointing to a worrying spike in hate crimes over the last five years.

Importantly the police watchdog pointed out how criminal offences targeting minorities has seen a clear rise during or after “national events” such as a terror attack, or a political campaign.

In its Understanding difference: the police’s initial response to hate crime report, the HMICFRS adds:

“There is a real possibility that there will be a similar increase in reports in 2019 if, as is anticipated by the government, the United Kingdom formally leaves the European Union.”

The Inspectorate then advices police forces to prepare for this possibility, including better training of police officers to deal with the crisis and the correct flagging, assessment, and tackling of the reported hate crimes takes place.

In the period between 2016 and 2017 alone, a total of 80,000 hate crimes were reported to police forces across England and Wales. The HMICFRS also warned that there is reason to believe that hate crimes are under-reported to the authorities.

But if you thought these figures were disconcerting, they could well be just the tip of the iceberg in a situation that is spiralling out of the government’s control.

1. Bad training is already a problem

According to anti-racist campaign HOPE Not Hate, 41% of Brits think that “multicultural society isn’t working”.

And in 2016 the Bureau of Investigative journalism found that while hate crime is on the rise, the police are taking less action than before.

HOPE Not Hate deputy director Jemma Levene said today:

“More consistent training and professional support for police officers is urgently needed, both to allow them to recognise hate crimes for what they are, and to support victims when they come forward.”

2. Tory cuts keep making things worse

Attempts to cut on government spending have hit the police authorities particularly hard. Home secretary turned Prime Minister, Theresa May, infamously angered police unions over cuts to the forces’ budgets.

Another report published today was the Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime statistics, which revealed a rise in violent crime while the number of police officers hit a record low.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott commented on the figures saying:

“While the government continues to deny any link between the rise in serious crime and the cuts to police officer numbers, today we see what an appalling and traumatic impact Theresa May’s decisions have had on our society.

“This is a shameful day for the Prime Minister. The next Labour government will bring back 10,000 police officers to tackle rising crime.”

3. Tory rhetoric about migrants and immigration is worrying

The new Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, has a long track record of outrageous statements. But in his new role, the most damaging opinion held by Raab will be his thinly veiled xenophobia.

He has already blamed the housing crisis on immigration, arguing back in April that “if we delivered on the government’s target of reducing immigration to the tens of thousands every year, that would have a material impact on the number of homes we need to build every year.”

The Windrush scandal, together with Amber Rudd’s open lies about targets on deportation figures, is certainly not appeasing anyone either. Labour MP David Lammy was targeted with scores of abusive hate mail following his valiant scrutiny of the government’s policies.

So it turns out that the Conservatives haven’t just delivered a Brexit referendum that has ultimately no applicable solution without plunging the country into deep constitutional crisis. They have also aggravated hatred and division, and consequently violent and abominable crime.

The solution to both problems, whichever way it heads, seems to go via an end of the Conservatives in power.

Joana Ramiro is a reporter for Left Foot Forward. You can follow her on Twitter for all sorts of rants here.

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