Sheffield braces itself for ‘steep rise’ in Brexit-related hate crime

Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Police have warned of a rise in hate crime following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The council and police are preparing for a sustained spike in bullying, offensive graffiti, online abuse and increased threat of violence and alt-right terrorism following Brexit.

The UK is set to leave the European Union on March 29

The UK is set to leave the European Union on March 29

Councillor Jim Steinke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “We are going to have to deal with it day-to-day, it won’t just be a short-term spike, it will be longer. The longer Article 50 is extended the more tension it will create.

“We need the police to get on with the job and make sure people report incidents and send out a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

“The threat of terrorism has been played down for obvious reasons but it’s fair to say there is concern about the alt-right.

“It’s also important to deal with online hate crime. It’s a constant for some people that every time they switch on their computer there is abuse.

“If we still leave, even people who voted for Brexit will still be very angry in five years time when they realise what they voted for won’t happen. You’ve also got this irony that EU migration is at a low and non-EU migration has gone up.”

In the aftermath of the EU-referendum Sheffield charity bosses reported incidents of staff being racially abused and South Yorkshire Police recorded a number of racist attacks. 

At the time, Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, wrote to the force urging them to be vigilant. She said: “I want people across our city worried about this to know, whatever your creed or colour, you are every bit as welcome in Sheffield as you have ever been. You have every bit as much a right to be here as I do and we all value the fantastic contribution you make to our city.

“Nobody has any right whatsoever to treat any people in our communities with hate.”

The police’s national leader on hate crime said there was an increase lasting 11 weeks following the EU referendum, and a rise of 57 percent in the four immediate days following the vote. Coun Steinke said it is likely to be longer post-Brexit.

He added: “I don’t think we were as prepared as we should have been for the referendum. But we have been in discussions with the police quite regularly on how we will prepare for Brexit. Whatever happens hate crime will go up, people will kick off if we stay or leave and we need to be ready for that. It’s crucial that people report incidents as soon as they happen.”

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: "There are strong views about the EU Exit and loud debate but there is no excuse for hate crime.  Police will respond robustly to people who cross that line.
“We are monitoring tension levels and hate crimes so we are able to respond quickly if we see rises.
“Nobody should have to face violence and intimidation because of who they are.  We remain committed to helping people feel safe and secure as they go about their lives.  Hate crimes will be treated seriously and investigated.”
Anyone who suffers a hate crime should report it to the police, either by calling 101 (999 in an emergency) or online through their True Vision web site at www.report-it.org.uk. You can also call Stop Hate on 0800 138 1625.