The number of hate crimes recorded by police surged after the Brexit referendum to be 29% higher than the previous year, the biggest increase ever recorded.
Police recorded 80,393 offences in 2016/2017, the Home Office revealed on Tuesday in figures that provide the first national picture of the number of incidents since the June referendum, in whose wake racist hate crime was reported to have risen.
The increase is the biggest since the annual reports began in 2011/12.
The peak came of 2016/17 in July 2016, the month after the referendum, when the number of offences reported was 44% higher than the previous July.
A total of 62,685 - 78% - of the hate crimes in 2016/17 were race hate, the figures show.
The Home Office said the figures were due to improvements in how police record hate crimes but also “a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum”.
The figures also include a rise in hate crime after the Westminster Bridge attack in March, the Home Office said.
All five strands of hate crime - race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and transgender - saw significant rises.
Both racist and homophobic hate crime increased by 27%, while religious hate crime rose by 35% and incidents against disabled people and transgender people rose by 53% and 45%.
Farah Elahi, a research analyst with race equality think tank The Runnymede Trust, told HuffPost UK the figures did not surprise her.
She added that certain events, such as the Brexit vote or terror attacks, and the media and political reaction to them “emboldened” some to “lash out at their neighbours.”
She said: “Some of the stories we’re getting... cars pulling up to people as they’re walking down the street, ‘go home’ or other racial slurs.
“People making monkey signs as mothers take their children to the playground... The P word being shouted at them or ‘terrorist’. People going about their daily lives being harassed or shouted at... We’re hearing the N word a lot more in the streets...
″[There is] a real sense of increased vulnerability for visible minorities.”
She added the incidents could hit the victim’s community as badly as the victim themselves.
She said: “If a muslim woman hasn’t been directly shouted at in the streets, if she’s heard reports from friends or community members this has happened, that has a health impact on her decisions and her mental health, in the same way it does if someone is directly affected.
“There’s an element of hate crime that cannot even be measured.”
Iman Atta, director of Islamophobia-reporting service TellMama, told HuffPost: “Hate crime affecting Muslim communities continues to sadly rise and these figures do confirm the sharp rises that we have seen and the strong sharp spikes that take place after terrorist attacks.
“Religiously aggravated hate crimes have risen and these are mainly anti-Muslim hate crimes.
“This is because of a number of things which include a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment driven by social media, far right networks, terrorist attacks and by consistent headlines that further isolate and caricature out Muslims as being the exception to the norm.”
A spokesman for Hope Not Hate said: “The figures released today are worrying, and represent just the tip of the iceberg, given that a high proportion of hate crimes go unrecorded.
“There is a great deal of work to be done to challenge violent hatred in our society – and we need to act fast.
“While the figures partly indicate improvements in reporting mechanisms, coming within a week of the government’s race audit they reveal a country divided, where inequalities are at their extreme, becoming manifest through violence.”
The Home Office data showed more hate crime taking place in the wake of this year’s terror attacks than the Brexit vote.
“This analysis showed a spike in daily hate crime after the Greater Manchester attack on the 22 May 2017,” the Home Office report said.
“The level of offences decreased in the following days, but again increased with the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks on the 3 June 2017. This pattern is again repeated with the Finsbury Park attack on the 19 June 2017.”
The Home Office figures follow figures from prosecutors that show the number of hate crime prosecutions actually fell in the same year.
The Crown Prosecution Service carried out 14,480 hate crime prosecutions in 2016/17, 1,000 fewer than the previous year.
Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “It is very troubling that prosecutions are falling even though reported hate crime is going up.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said: “The Tories have made great claims about tackling burning injustices.
But they are clearly not tackling the great injustice of being attacked simply because of your religion, your sexuality, the colour of your skin or your disability...
“The Tories continue to make police cuts and, in their own words, they have created a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “No one in Britain should have to suffer violent prejudice and indications that there was a genuine rise in the number of offences immediately following each of this year’s terror attacks is undoubtedly concerning.”