Fears over racial tensions building in Doncaster in wake of EU referendum result

Doncaster's  Civic Offices.
Doncaster's Civic Offices.
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Doncaster Council chiefs have held top-level talks over fears racist attacks could rocket in the wake of the EU referendum result.

The local authority’s chief executive, Jo Miller, has spoken out saying racist abuse - both verbal and physical - will not be tolerated.

Ms Miller met with the borough’s Directly Elected Mayor, Ros Jones, on Sunday to discuss the council’s strategies to such crimes, and is urging anyone who witnesses or experiences racial abuse to report it to the police immediately.

A total of two hate crimes have been reported since Friday, the local authority confirmed today.

Jo Miller, Chief Executive of Doncaster Council, said: “Hate crime in any shape or form will not be tolerated in any of our communities and while there has been no increase since the EU referendum we want to make sure this continues to be the case. One or two incidents of hate crime is one or two too many. There have been incidents reported up and down the country and this has no place in British society.

“We want Doncaster to be a welcoming place where all residents wherever they are from can live together peacefully and free from physical and verbal abuse.

“If anyone has been a victim they should report it to South Yorkshire Police or to one of our hate crime reporting centres which can be found on: www.doncaster.gov.uk/hatecrime

“The message is clear. If you believe you are being targeted because of who you are, this is a hate incident and possibly a hate crime. Please report it and we will respond.”

This comes in the wake of last week’s referendum when 51.9 per cent of British voters opted to leave the European Union. 

And in Doncaster, 69 per cent of those who turned out for the first referendum on the European Union since 1975 voted to leave.

Doncaster racial equality campaigner, Nadeem Murtuja, says many people belonging to ethnic minorities in the borough do not feel confident enough to report hate crimes, and says a South-Asian friend of his ‘almost had his eye gouged out’ in a racially motivated attack out mere hours after it was revealed Britain would be leaving the EU.

He said: “He’s a Doncaster teacher, who has a respected position in the community, and he was minding his own business when he was shoved against a wall and the man who attacked him tried to gauge his eyes out.

“The man who did it was making racially-motivated comments and I think he mentioned the result too, but he hasn’t reported it because he’s not confident enough about the way it will be handled.

“The problem is I think the people who need to be shaping the council’s policy on this - are the ones who it affects.

“I had a meeting with Doncaster Council about strategy for dealing with hate crimes in April, but they haven’t come back to me since.

“I am worried that we’re going to see the number of these type of incidents increase here in Doncaster, and the council should have anticipated this before the referendum took place.”

A hate crime is defined as any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, that is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate.

Doncaster has a total of 11 centres across the borough, including the council’s Civic Offices in the town centre, where hate crimes can be reported for anyone who does not want to go to a police station.

Visit http://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/crime-anti-social-behaviour-nuisance/reporting-hate-crime to report a hate crime online or for more information.

You can also call South Yorkshire Police on 101.