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Was there a spike in hate crimes after the Brexit referendum?

Example claim: 'Horrible spike' in hate crime linked to Brexit vote, Met police say

A “horrible spike” in hate crime after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was at least partly linked to the referendum, Britain’s most senior police officer has said.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan police commissioner, told a hearing at London’s City Hall that hate crime was showing signs of decreasing after a sharp rise in June and July, but it had still not returned to pre-referendum levels.

the article mentions statistics about a rise in the number of reports of hate crimes, but I couldn't see any mention of numbers of investigations, prosecutions or convictions, except for a single case in the last paragraph.

  • 4
    Come on. Sourced data is available in all the articles linked from the one you quoted for the claim, quoting Home Office, National Police Chiefs' Council, ... – DevSolar Nov 11 '16 at 12:37
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    @DevSolar I think the point here is that data on reported hate crimes isn't particularly good evidence. It's quite plausible that Brexit could lead to a change in reporting, because people might be more likely to interpret incidents as possible hate crimes given the atmosphere around Brexit. Media narratives about a "spike in hate crimes" can also be self-fulfilling in terms of reports. – user11522 Nov 11 '16 at 13:17
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    @dan1111: So you'd be looking for the number of convictions. Somewhat tricky when many of the cases have probably not even gone to court yet, hm? – DevSolar Nov 11 '16 at 13:18
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    @DevSolar the OP asked about "investigations, prosecutions or convictions". It does seem likely that the question isn't going to be answerable, but I think the skepticism of the claim is warranted. – user11522 Nov 11 '16 at 13:19
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    @DevSolar: If you knew much about cops, you wouldn't assume that. – jamesqf Nov 11 '16 at 18:39
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Research from the University of Southampton found a statistically significant link between the Brexit referendum and an increase in hate crimes.

The latest crime survey stats for hate crimes are only available up to 2015. However, it should be noted that the numbers in the survey tend to mirror the number of reported crimes, only a little higher, so in the absence of other evidence you would expect the trend to continue.

  • The researcher you linked also only used reported crime - he controlled for other factors, like time of year and terrorism, but still uses reported crime (simply because we'll have to wait for the numbers of convictions to come in for some time still, and it is very unlikely that numbers on investigations will be useful either, because 'investigation' is just a name for 'unclosed case', not for 'something we take seriously and are actively engaged in solving', so whether an investigation is launched is influenced by many things, including political climate) – bukwyrm Aug 20 '18 at 9:54
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    @bukwyrm what are you trying to say, that Brexit caused people to report more hate crime even though the actual amount didn't go up? And then again after the terror attacks? That seems unconvincing, especially compared to the research's hypothesis that increased negative framing of immigrants and immigration in the media is responsible for an actual rise in such crimes, with such framing being measurable. – dont_shog_me_bro Aug 20 '18 at 10:39
  • imo reported crime is a good indicator for real crime. But the line of argument that you just mentioned (reports going up without crime going up because people feel jittery) is precisely the argument made (and referenced in the research you linked) by Daily Mail etc. The OP specifically asked about data beyond the reports for (probably) that reason. – bukwyrm Aug 20 '18 at 10:43
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    the problem with reported crime is some papers (e.g. the Guardian) pushed a heavy 'Brexit is about racism' line, which would encourage reporting (and potentially offences, ironically) – user43646 Aug 20 '18 at 11:34
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    @Orangesandlemons it was probably more to do with some papers (like the Daily Mail) pushing an extreme anti-immigrant line, which would encourage hate crime. UKIP recycling Nazi propaganda probably didn't help either. – dont_shog_me_bro Aug 20 '18 at 12:34

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