Brexit hate crime focus of Cardiff Uni monitoring study

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Hate crimes on social media are to be targeted in a £250,000 project by Cardiff University experts focusing on Brexit.

They aim to develop a monitoring tool to help police and government officials curb cases on websites like Twitter.

The experts said "trigger" events like last June's referendum result are known to lead to a spike in incidents.

Hate crime recorded by police in England and Wales jumped 41% in the month after the vote to quit the EU.

Last July, the UK government published a plan to deal with hate crime in England and Wales in a bid to increase reporting of incidents and improving support for victims as well as reducing the scale of the problem.

Prof Matthew Williams, from the university's Social Data Science Lab, said: "The referendum on the UK's future in the European Union has galvanised certain prejudiced opinions held by a minority of people, resulting in a spate of hate crimes.


"Over the coming period of uncertainty relating to the form of the UK's exit, decision makers, particularly those responsible for minimising the risk of social disorder through community reassurance, local policing and online governance, will require near real-time information on the likelihood of escalation of hateful content spread on social media."

Hate crimes in Wales were up 60% over the EU referendum vote period compared with the same time the previous year.

The researchers are collecting data over a 12-month period, starting from 23 June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Mr Williams said the lab was working with the UK Head of the Cross-Government Hate Crime Programme at the National Police Chiefs Council, among others, as part of the project.

The university's Social Data Science Lab has worked with the Metropolitan Police, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Los Angeles Police Department.

The funding has been provided by the Economic and Social Research Council which supports training and study.

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