Hate incidents following EU poll creating 'real fear' in communities

Bradford vigil
Image caption A 'Bradford Says No to Racism' vigil was held in the city on Wednesday

Racist abuse incidents since the Brexit vote have been creating "real fear" amongst ethnic minorities in Yorkshire, religious and community leaders said.

Leeds mosque leader Qari Asim said victims had been spat at or physically attacked but it went unreported because of a lack of confidence in police.

The Muslim Community Safety Forum said police figures did not give a true reflection of the current situation.

West, South and North Yorkshire Police urged people to report hate incidents.

Unreported abuse

Data supplied to the BBC showed that over the last year, race hate crimes had gone up 13% in Yorkshire.

However, the data also showed that there was no strong link between the EU referendum vote and a rise in the number of racially motivated hate crimes being recorded.

For example, in June 2016, 472 race hate crimes were dealt with by forces in North, South and West Yorkshire - the same number as in March 2016, three months before the referendum was held.

Wakefield councillor Nadeem Ahmed said he had been subjected to racist comments whilst out with his family.

Mr Ahmed, leader of the Conservative group, said for every incident flagged up to police many more went unreported and has urged victims to take a stand.

He said: "If I would have been on my own I wouldn't have been that angry, but my wife and children were in the car - they didn't need to hear that sort of language."

The claims comes as a new report published by the Muslim Community Safety Forum said there needed to be better awareness of how victims can report a hate crime.

Image caption Nadeem Ahmed, a Wakefield councillor, said he was verbally abused in front of his children

Dr Asim, Imam of Leeds Makkah Mosque, said people needed to work together to create a more stable neighbourhood.

He said: "People have voted to leave Europe because they think it's going to make their life better, economically, politically and socially.

"If that doesn't happen in six months' time, I fear there are going to be worse crimes and hate crimes committed against European and South Asian communities."

Image caption Dr Qari Asim encouraged people to report incidents, no matter how "low-level" they may feel

Angela Williams, Assistant Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We have had a slight increase in incidents reported to us, but only really small increases.

"We believe that they are not being reported through to us, which is the issue. We're trying to raise awareness for people to come forward."

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