Meeting examines rise in post-Brexit Norfolk hate crimes

The panel at the 'Breaking Away not Breaking Apart' meeting

The panel at the 'Breaking Away not Breaking Apart' meeting - Credit: Archant

There was a 83pc increase in hate crime across the county in the Brexit period, MP Chloe Smith has said.

The Norwich North MP's comments were made at an event aimed at tackling the issue in the city yesterday.

More than 100 people attended the meeting, which was organised by the UEA and included several expert speakers.

Ms Smith said that hate crime figures showed a rise in reported incidents when compared to the same period in 2015.

'The police and crime commissioner told me that the increase appeared to have been spread out over the week before and the week after the referendum,' she said.

'But that has reduced to what he refers to as 'normal levels' since.'

The meeting, held at Epic Studios, took place two months after an Eastern European food store on Magdalen Street was targeted by arsonists. Police said they were keeping an 'open mind' over whether the crime was racially motivated.

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The meeting was organised to try to establish why there had been a rise in hate crime, and to find a way to reduce it.

Alan Anstead, from UK Race and Europe Network, said: 'People with racist views felt the referendum legitimised their viewpoint, so that they could tell people in the street to go home, or worse.

'That is something politicians at every level need to address and say 'no it certainly does not'.'

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, praised the response from people across the city following the arson attack in July.

He said: 'It is important to say that the way the Norwich community responded to that showed the overwhelming sentiment of the city.

'In fact, the Romanian ambassador came to Norwich to thank the city for how it responded.'

The Labour councillor said the local authority was part of a multi-agency organisation that was working together to tackle xenophobic behaviour.

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