Cleveland Police is among dozens of forces nationwide to record levels of hate crime in the aftermath of last year’s EU referendum, new analysis has shown.
The force saw 159 hate crime incidents from July-September last year, a 29% rise compared with April-June.
Durham Constabulary saw 66 incidents between July-September last year, which is a 16% rise.
A human rights organisation has said the country should prepare for the possibility of further spikes in offences once the Brexit process has begun.
The figures, compiled by the Press Association, provide the first complete picture of hate crime recorded by police in England and Wales following the referendum on June 23.
They show that in the three months ending September 2016:
• 33 out of 44 forces recorded the highest quarterly number of hate crimes since comparable records began in April 2012
• Only four forces reported a decrease on the previous three months
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the findings suggested a small number of people used the Brexit vote “to legitimise inexcusable racism and prejudice”, while the charity Victim Support said more needed to be done to encourage victims to come forward.
David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, said it “must be sensible to prepare for any possible spikes” in hate crime once Brexit negotiations got under way.
“The vast majority of people who voted to leave the European Union did so because they believed it was best for Britain and not because they are intolerant of others,” he said. It is clear, however, that a small minority of people used the Brexit vote to legitimise inexcusable racism and prejudice. We cannot allow such intolerable acts of hate to be condoned or repeated.
“The triggering of Article 50 is the next major milestone and we must do all we can to discourage hate attacks and to support people who feel at risk.”
Lucy Hastings, director at Victim Support, revealed the charity last year supported 16,000 victims of hate crime in England and Wales and confirmed a spike in referrals in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.
She said the rise could be linked to increased publicity about hate crimes, which “encouraged “more reporting. She added: “Hate crime has no place in our society and every victim of this crime is one too many.
“We believe that more needs to be done to further encourage reporting. This includes making third-party hate crime units more accessible to the public.”