Polish ambassador expresses “deep concern” after reports of abuse directed against UK-based Poles in the wake of Brexit.
Poland’s embassy in London has decried a racially motivated attack by up to 20 teenagers that left a Polish man hospitalised in the northern city of Leeds, the latest in a series of hate crimes against Poles in the UK.
Calling Friday’s attack “a disgusting act”, the police and crime commissioner of the West Yorkshire region, which includes Leeds, issued a statement on Tuesday to reassure the area’s Polish and Eastern European communities that “hate crimes” would not be tolerated.
“There is no place in West Yorkshire for those who foster any kind of hatred and intolerance,” commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said, adding that extra police patrols have been ordered in the area.
“[Police] are committed to working together with eastern European communities and others to tackle hate crime head on.”
Following the attack, the Polish embassy said it was “saddened by another assault” on one of its citizens in the UK, where there have been around 30 “xenophobic incidents” in recent months.
“The assault in Leeds has been the most serious of over 10 xenophobic incidents experienced by Poles in the north of England that the Consulate General in Manchester dealt with in the recent months,” the embassy said in a statement on Monday.
“The Consular Section of the Polish Embassy in London offered assistance in [a] further 17 cases in the South and the Midlands.”
— Polish Embassy UK 🇵🇱 (@PolishEmbassyUK) September 12, 2016
The latest attack occurred at 9:35pm local time on Friday night in Leeds when a group of up to 20 teenagers confronted a 28-year-old Polish man and his friend. The Pole attempted to escape but was chased down and punched and kicked by the group, who racially abused their victim during the attack, police said.
Hospitalised with a cut to his head that required stitches, the man had injuries that were not considered life-threatening, police said.
— West Yorkshire Police (@WestYorksPolice) September 12, 2016
Police also appealed for witnesses to the attack to come forward.
In the aftermath of the June 23 referendum vote to leave the EU, known as Brexit, xenophobic and racist hate crimes surged by 58 percent, according to the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), with Eastern European migrants, particularly the Polish community, being targets of attack.
While the huge surge had abated in recent weeks, hate crimes were still 14 percent higher in August that in the same period in 2015, according to the NPCC.
Polish embassy officials said they will meet members of the Polish community in Leeds later this week.