Council issues robust stance on hate crime

HATE crime will not be allowed to prosper in Woking, the council’s Leader has declared in a robust stance on a surge of reports nationwide in the wake of the controversial European Union Referendum.

In a statement to the Executive at a recent meeting, Councillor John Kingsbury explained that the borough’s multicultural community will not stand for bigotry or discrimination.

He said: “We must not allow the democratic vote to leave the EU to be taken, by some, as justification for hate towards people of different national origin, faith or sexual orientation.

“Great Britain has welcomed migrants from many parts of the world for many years and enacted its first Race Relations Act in 1965, well before it joined the EU.

“We have a strong tradition of being opposed to discrimination and it is important that we maintain it.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council figures paint an unwanted picture in the wake of the Brexit vote, with a 42% increase in reports of hate crimes between 16 and 30 June compared to the same period in 2015.

Mark Hamilton, Assistant Chief Constable for the NPCC’s Lead for Hate Crime, said: “Police forces are working closely with their communities to maintain unity and tolerance and prevent any hate crime or abuse following the EU Referendum.

“Hatred not only has the potential to cause serious physical and emotional harm, it damages communities and undermines the diversity and tolerance we should be instead celebrating.

“Police forces will respond robustly to any incidents and offenders can expect to receive enhanced sentencing.

“Everyone has a right to feel safe and confident about who they are. Being yourself is not a crime: hate crime is.”

A council statement reassuring foreign nationals that they continue to play a key role within Woking’s communities has also been issued: “We are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society.

“Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country.

“We, Woking Borough Council, condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate to become acceptable.

“The authority will work to ensure local bodies and programmes have the support and resources needed to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia.”

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