Hate crime is on the rise in Cornwall following the Brexit vote in June 2016. Figures from police in England and Wales showed that hate crime on a national level increased by 41%; a month following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in this year’s referendum.

Cornwall, like other places in the UK, has seen a significant rise in hates crimes ranging from racism to xenophobia. Toby Best, Diversity Officer for West Cornwall, said that hate crime in the area “has gone up, but at a steady level”.

Falmouth and Exeter Student Union President of Community and Welfare, Alexa Webster, said: “It’s undeniable that when the vote for Leave happened, a lot of people saw it as their right to suddenly voice things that they have been thinking for a long time.

“The national narrative around that from some Brexit campaigners was very much immigration-related and that has bred a ‘culture of intolerance’. They saw the ‘Out’ vote as confirming their own personal beliefs rather than it being a statement on whether or not we should be part of the EU; be that issues around free market or labour.”

Safer Cornwall said in their Partnership Plan of 2016-19: “Hate crime and violent extremism continue to be assessed as a comparatively low risk and threat to our communities but we know that the risk has increased.

“Our primary focus has been on building confidence in local communities to report hate incidents, to provide the opportunity for partners to take action and to ensure that the victim can access the support that they need.”

Alexa Webster has also launched an e-mail service called Tell Me, which allows victims or spectators of hate crime to send e-mails reporting “first, second, third or fourth-hand information” of a particular hate crime and then receive information from Student Support about what to do.