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Fears Of Brexit-Related Hate Crime Prompts Sadiq Khan To Alert Metropolitan Police

'We will have a zero-tolerance approach to any attempt to hurt and divide our communities.'

27/06/2016 15:42

Britain’s largest police force has been placed on heightened alert for any rise in hate crime in the wake of last week's EU referendum result.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had asked Scotland Yard to be “extra vigilant” after a number of incidents were reported in the capital and around Britain, the Press Association reported.

"So it’s really important we stand guard against any rise in hate crimes or abuse by those who might use last week’s referendum as cover to seek to divide us.

"I’ve asked our police to be extra vigilant for any rise in cases of hate crime, and I’m calling on all Londoners to pull together and rally behind this great city."

Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive
The Metropolitan Police has been put on heightened alert following reports of hate crime in the wake of the EU referendum result

Addressing hate crimes will be a priority for the Metropolitan Police, he said, adding: "We will have a zero-tolerance approach to any attempt to hurt and divide our communities.

"It’s also crucial that we don’t demonise the 1.5 million people in London who voted for Brexit. 

"While I and millions of others disagreed with their decision, they took it for a variety of reasons and this shouldn’t be used to accuse them of being xenophobic or racist.

"We must respect their decision and work together now to get the best deal for London."

Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe described London as a "diverse, global city where people from many different backgrounds live and work side-by-side in safety".

He added: "That hasn’t changed in the past few days but if people do have any concerns they should let the police know. We will investigate vigorously any reports of crime motivated by hatred."

The Mayor said he was proud of London’s "famed and well-deserved reputation" for diversity.

Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

He said: "Many people from all over the world live and work here, contributing to every aspect of life in our city. I say to them all, you are, and you will continue to be, welcome in London and in all our communities."

It came as the Poland’s ambassador expressed shock at incidents of "xenophobic abuse" directed against the Polish community.

Officers are probing the criminal damage at the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK), in Hammersmith, west London.

Google Maps
The centre where xenophobic graffiti was daubed

Cambridgeshire Police are investigating suspected post-referendum racism after notes were allegedly posted through letterboxes of Polish residents in the county.

Laminated cards reading "Leave the EU - no more Polish vermin" were reportedly delivered to members of the Polish community in Huntingdon, north west of Cambridge, on Saturday.

Polish ambassador to Britain Witold Sobkow said on Monday: "We are shocked and deeply concerned by the recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community and other UK residents of migrant heritage.

"The Polish Embassy is in contact with relevant institutions, and local police are already investigating the two most widely reported cases in Hammersmith, London, and Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

"At the same time, we would like to thank for all the messages of support and solidarity with the Polish community expressed by the British public. We call on all Polish nationals who fall victim of xenophobic abuse and on all witnesses to report such incidents to local authorities."

Muslims have also been targeted in a number of incidents.

Fiyaz Mughal, founder of anti-Muslim hate crime recording organisation Tell MAMA, said that the referendum result was being used to legitimise prejudice.

He said: "Since the vote, we have had incidents reported it in mainly from visible Muslim women who have stated that they have been targeted at a street level for comments like - 'We voted you out, why are you still here.'

"The Brexit vote seems to have legitimised the prejudice of some people to the point where they are verbalising and targeting people at a street level who are visibly different. This is England 2016 and this is totally unacceptable."

Conservative group leader on the London Assembly and Brexit supporter, Gareth Bacon, also condemned xenophobic and racist incidents.

He said: "It is so important that the tens of thousands of European migrants who work and live in London do not feel marginalised by the Referendum result.

"We have thrived as a city because of our diversity. It is not right for anyone to treat the Referendum result as an excuse for racist and hateful behaviour.

"It is more important than ever before that our European neighbours feel welcome here. Londoners of all backgrounds and political persuasions must come together as the UK takes this important step towards independence."

 
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