Eastern Europeans living in Spalding are being advised what to do in the event of racist attacks on them following the EU (European Union) referendum.
Spalding and South Holland has so far been free of the kind of racial hatred and abuse seen in other parts of the country since last Thursday’s vote.
But after reports of hate-filled leaflets being left on cars near a school in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday, community groups working to improve relations between migrants and other people living in Spalding have taken steps to prepare for similar incidents in the area.
Diana Gajek and Anna Czapska from the Polish Education Centre in Spalding said: “The Polish community was quite concerned before the referendum about what would happen to them if the UK voted to leave the EU.
“Clients who visited us after the referendum had questions about their mortgages, work permits and the possible need for visas to stay in this country.
“But the Polish community is also very concerned and shocked by recent racist attacks in London, along with racist leaflets distributed around England which said ‘Polish Vermin to go home’.
We strongly believe that the EU referendum was the trigger for this behaviour and we are very worried about an escalation into other forms of xenophobic attacks in the futureDiana Gajek and Anna Czapska from the Polish Education Centre in Spalding
“We strongly believe that the EU referendum was the trigger for this behaviour and we are very worried about an escalation into other forms of xenophobic attacks in the future.”
The events in Huntingdon on Sunday led to a joint meeting between police and community representatives in a bid to stamp out any more attempts at giving out racist leaflets in the town.
Anna said: “As the prospect of leaving the EU became a fact, most Polish people were asking ‘What’s next for us?’
“We assured them that nothing will change for at least the next two years and that their treaty rights in the UK will remain the same.
“In the meantime, we’ve advised them to report any hate crimes to the police.
“However, so far, we’ve had plenty of support from the people of Spalding and one gentleman even brought us some sweets and doughnuts.”
Inspector Andy Morrice of Lincolnshire Police said: “Whilst this county has, thankfully, not experienced any of the type of incidents reported elsewhere in the country, I am aware that there are many concerns and uncertainties within our communities after the recent referendum result.
“Regardless of the decision made by the British public to exit the EU, hate crime is, and will remain, a priority and therefore it will not be tolerated.
“If anyone believes they are subject to a hate crime or incident, we would encourage them to report it to the police and it will be robustly investigated.”
Insp Morrice’s message was backed by Detective Inspector Dan Whyment of the Hate Crime Delivery Group, who said: “A great deal of effort goes into raising awareness and understanding of hate crime within our community.
“I am pleased to say that Lincolnshire Police and our partners have and continue to take hate-related crime very seriously.”