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Local government urged to prepare for Brexit tensions

19 Mar 19

Local authorities have been told to step up planning for community tensions after Brexit.

Guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government called for councils to steel themselves for “an increase in community tensions” when the UK leaves the EU.

The guidance noted that hate crimes and community tensions tend to spike after national events and pointed to Home Office data that shows that racially or religiously aggravated offences rose around the time of the referendum in 2016.

“A similar increase is possible when the UK formally leaves the European Union,” the guidance said.

It added: “There may also be a risk of more localised trigger events, which local authorities and their partners should be mindful of. Against this backdrop, regardless of the evidence, community concerns around hate crime may be heightened at this time.”

MHCLG encouraged local authorities to appoint a central point of contact for information, advice and support on hate crime.

The department also suggested increasing engagement with hate crime lead officers in local police forces and the Crown Prosecution Service.

MHCLG said: “These officers will be a source of expertise and advice for local authorities, particularly in an increase in community tension occurs.”

Local authorities also play a “critical” role in ensuring that the government’s message reaches EU citizens in their area, and providing practical information about the EU Settlement Scheme,” it said.

The scheme, which will be fully open by 30 March, allows EU citizens to apply to remain in the UK beyond 2021.

Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation think-tank, told PF that dealing with increased tensions post-Brexit will be “challenging”.

“There’s not a lot of capacity for police forces to deal with added pressures. Their capacity to respond is much diminished because it’s in the context of 90% real terms less resource than the police had in 2010-11,” he said.

A group today warned that a no-deal Brexit would disrupt “vital research” at UK universities.

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