HATE crime increased in the months after the Brexit vote, new figures show.
Racists used the referendum to justify ‘inexcusable’ prejudice with 463 crimes reported across Hampshire.
The reports in the three months after the June 23 vote were a 33 per cent increase compared to the three prior.
Community associations have said their members saw more abuse on the streets following the referendum vote to leave the European Union but that had now tailed off back to the same level.
Jayda Khan, secretary of Portsmouth Bengali Association, said: ‘There have been issues, we had a few youngsters being racially abused in the street.
‘There’s probably more and more not reporting it.
‘People don’t want to face the stigma. Those figures are probably not as accurate as they should be, in our experience a lot of people don’t report it.’
Incidents in Portsmouth included someone spray-painting ‘UKIP’ and ‘DIRTY POLISH’ near the war memorial in Guildhall Square on June 28.
Across England and Wales, 33 out of 44 forces recorded the highest quarterly number of hate crimes since comparable records began in April 2012, including Hampshire police.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said this suggested a small number of people used the Brexit vote ‘to legitimise inexcusable racism and prejudice’, while charity Victim Support said that more needed to be done to encourage victims to come forward.
Albert Choi is chairman of Portsmouth Chinese Association and owns Noble House in Southsea.
He said: ‘We did have some reports from the community that discrimination seems to have increased, people calling you names, saying “get out”, for a little while, but not recently.
‘Even in Osborne Road, not directly at shop or business, but my neighbours, had people calling them names saying “go home, you’re not welcome”, that was soon after Brexit.’
Community leaders have said more should be done to educate young children, but that faith groups should open their doors to more people, more widely.
Canon Nick Ralph runs the Portsmouth Diocesan Council for Social Responsibility. He said the figures did not ‘surprise’ him.
‘It seems there was an increase sadly but I hope that it was a temporary blip and I would say what we need to do now is to think about how we make sure it’s temporary and those numbers go back down,’ he told The News.
Ian Stiff, manager for independent charity Victim Support in Hampshire and Isle of Wight said: ‘Hate crime has no place in our society and every victim of this crime is one too many.’
Police said there were 453 hate crimes between May and July, while the new figures show 463 between July and September.