Rise in hate crime reports peaked day after EU referendum result announced
A recent spike in reported hate crimes and incidents peaked on the day after the EU referendum result was announced, new figures have revealed.
There were 289 alleged offences across England, Wales and Northern Ireland on June 25 - equivalent to 12 every hour, police data showed.
More than 3,000 hate crimes and incidents were reported to forces around the country in the second half of June - a rise of 42% compared with the same period last year.
The figures released by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) provide the most comprehensive insight yet into the nationwide picture after a spate of reports sparked fears of a wave of xenophobic and racial abuse in the wake of the referendum.
In the latest developments a Polish family targeted in an arson attack said they have suffered a torrent of abuse since the EU referendum, while counter-terrorism police were investigating after packages containing white powder were sent to Islamic buildings in London.
Police forces were asked to file figures on hate crime on a weekly basis after reports to an online police portal indicated an increase.
The first set of findings show 3,076 hate crimes and incidents were reported to police between June 16 and 30. This was an increase of 915, or 42%, compared with last year.
" At the peak in offending on June 25 2016, 289 offences occurred," the NPCC said.
It added that since this point there has been a marked decrease in reports but figures will continue to be collated on a weekly basis to monitor the situation until further reductions are seen.
The NPCC said the main type of offence reported over the fortnight was "violence against the person", which includes harassment and common assault, as well as verbal abuse, spitting and "barging". The second and third most prevalent incidents were public order offences, followed by criminal damage.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, NPCC lead for hate crime, said: "We now have a clear indication of the increases in the reporting of hate crime nationally and can see that there has been a sharp rise in recent weeks.
"This is unacceptable and it undermines the diversity and tolerance we should instead be celebrating.
"Forces have been monitoring and managing hate crime more robustly since the attacks in Paris in 2015. We believe that greater awareness and confidence in the police response has contributed to this increase in reporting."
A Polish family who live in the Efford region of Plymouth, Devon, were targeted overnight on Wednesday into Thursday when a fire was started in a shed next to their house.
They managed to escape without injury, despite substantial damage to the property. A note left near the scene warned of further reprisals if the family did not "go back" to Poland.
Detectives believe the fire was started deliberately and was racially motivated.
Ewa Banaszak, 22, said her two younger sisters and father were inside the home when the fire took hold.
Speaking on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Ms Banaszak said: "We know this was a serious threat. Obviously we are still shocked and aware this might happen again, but know everybody is doing what they can to put our minds at ease, and that we are safe."
She added: "We do feel that things have just got worse since the referendum. We get a lot more abuse from the other people."
In London police were called to mosques and Islamic centres in Tottenham, Leyton and Finsbury Park on Thursday. The Met Police said officers were stood down when it was discovered the powder was not noxious.
On the same day a security alert was sparked at Westminster after a peer received hate mail containing white powder.