Call to stamp out hate crimes in Waveney after EU referendum

Ivan Humble is urging people to report intolerance in the wake of the Brexit vote.PHOTO: Nick Butch

Ivan Humble is urging people to report intolerance in the wake of the Brexit vote.PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

'We need to make sure intolerance isn't brought into our community' – that is the message from community leaders across Waveney today after fears a rise in hate crime is taking place under the radar.

Figures such as Waveney District Council chairman Mark Bee and Manwar Ali, chief executive of Suffolk-based Muslim educational charity Jimas, believe there has been a rise in incidents since the European Union referendum.

Although police say there have been just three incidents recorded across the county since 'Brexit', the concern is people may not have reported lower-level, verbal abuse.

But there is a fear that if that is not challenged, it could progress into more serious cases.

Mr Bee said he was aware of about a dozen incidents since the vote – and Lowestoft's Ormiston Denes Academy called in Mr Ali to talk to students about equality after noticing a rise in inappropriate comments.

Assistant principal James Lowden said that even though only a very small minority of pupils showed signs of the behaviour, 'we felt we had to challenge that quite robustly and that we needed to do that very quickly'.

Mr Lowden added: 'We need to make sure intolerance isn't brought into our community.

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'We saw an increase in the number of students using particular words that they had picked up in the media.

'We felt we needed to address it. We have a duty to say that even if that language is not targeting anyone, it is not acceptable.

'We've got to be on the look out for this behaviour and we have got a duty to make sure we challenge it. It would be wrong if we didn't acknowledge it.'

Waveney District Council also unanimously passed a motion at its full council meeting this week condemning acts of discrimination, similar to one passed at Suffolk County Council earlier this month.

Council leader Colin Law said: 'I welcome this motion but I do so with a heavy heart, because we shouldn't be in a position where we need to do it.

'We need to support those people who are victims.'

Supporting the motion, Labour opposition group leader Sonia Barker said: 'As community leaders, we need to show bravery and strong leadership at this time.

'Extremism, wherever it comes from, has to be challenged and we have to unite and report it wherever it lurks

'We know that the vast majority of our residents are law-abiding but if we find that individuals or groups are promoting hatred and division, we must challenge it and stamp it out.'

Incidents should be reported to Suffolk police by calling 101 or by dialling 999 if it is an emergency.