Hate crime increase on the railways following Brexit
Worrying new figures indicate that British railways are an increasingly dangerous place for ethnic minority groups following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
According to figures obtained by the Press Association through a Freedom of Information request to British Transport Police (BTP), 119 race hate crimes were reported between 24 June, when the referendum result was announced, and 7 July.
This represents a 57% increase from the fortnight before the referendum, and a 78% increase from the same period in 2015. Three of the incidents involved actual bodily harm and 22 related arrests have been made.
Supt Chris Horton of BTP said: “Hate crime is totally unacceptable and has no place in society or on the rail network.
“We are aware that hate crime is under-reported and so in order to tackle it effectively, we need the public to stand up to those committing these sickening acts and report it to us. We will take every report seriously.”
The rate of reported hate crimes in society as a whole was 57% higher in the fortnight following the referendum than it was a month before.
One of the most high-profile incidents was a video of three youths chanting racist abuse at a man on a tram in Manchester.
It’s sadly unsurprising to have official confirmation that the increase in hate crimes has spread to railways. Despite the overall strong safety record on Britain’s railways, their transitory nature means that a small minority see them as an easy environment for committing crime and targeting others.
Whatever your views on the EU referendum, we all need to make clear that this behaviour is unacceptable and that railways should provide a safe travel space for everyone.
Bruce Williamson from campaigning group Railfuture said that the “worrying” figures show “the continuing need for staff presence at stations and on board trains”.
Rose Simkins, chief executive of charity Stop Hate UK, said that hate crimes as a whole are “extremely under-reported”, so the overall numbers could be even higher. She urged BTP to assess its hate crime strategy.
Transport for London has already launched the #WeStandTogether campaign to prevent hate crime on the capital’s transport networks.
Whilst rail staff and police remain vigilant about hate crimes, it also falls to passengers to take responsibility for the issue.
We should all speak out when we see people being abused on the railway, whether by calling out the perpetrators if it is safe to do so, by calling 999 or by offering support to the victim and making it plain that such acts aren’t tolerated.
(Image c. Transport for London)
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