Brexit causes ugly hate crime to rear its head on our city's streets, says councillor
A councillor says he has had racial slurs hurled at him in the street after the UK's decision to leave the European Union.
Wakefield South councillor Nadeem Ahmed said he has experienced a level of racism “like never before” since the announcement of Brexit last Friday.
The leader of the Wakefield Conservatives says he had racial comments shouted at him while out running in his ward and when eating at a fast-food outlet in the city centre.
And he says people living in his ward, which includes Sandal, Agbrigg and Belle Vue, have reported increases in incidents of racial and hate crimes to him.
Coun Ahmed said: “A major concern for me is that this will get worse. As I have grown up, I have never come across this stuff before. People are passing comments that are extremely unacceptable in this day and age.
“And as a result members of the community are feeling threatened. I think the police have got a duty to get out there and give the message that this is unacceptable behaviour.
“People have voted to leave the EU but we need to separate that from racist views and understand that this country has been made from migration.”
Wakefield police Inspector Mark Chamberlain said: “From a reporting and recording perspective, we have not had anything that has been reported to us that would suggest a peak in race related incidents in our area in the wake of Brexit. But we are aware of this nationally and are actively monitoring the situation locally.
“I would urge anyone who has experienced racial hatred to get in touch. Hate incidents of all kinds are always taken seriously.”
Across the country, there have been reports of incidents where people from both within and outside the EU, as well as those born in the UK, have allegedly been targeted with xenophobic comments.
High profile incidents include alleged racial abuse towards a passenger on a tram in Manchester, reports of a seven-year-old Muslim girl being told to “go home” in Dewsbury and investigations into a racially aggravated attack on a shopkeeper in Leeds.
Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to tackle the racial hatred. He said he would “drive these appalling hate crimes out of our country” by increasing investment in security for community buildings at risk, money for neighbourhood groups to tackle incidents and enhancing the reporting of hate crimes.
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said: “There is no place for hate crime of any kind in Wakefield, which has always been a diverse and tolerant city. The referendum result should not change that. “I urge anybody who witnesses or is a victim of hate crime to report it. I have contacted Wakefield’s police commander to see what further steps he can take to reassure communities and ensure victims have confidence to come forward.”