There has been no increase in reported hate crime in Adur and Worthing since the EU referendum in June, a council investigation has found.
The report was requested following perceptions of that hate crime had increased, said Mary D’Arcy, director of communities, who presented the report.
“We cannot conclude that there is sufficient evidence that there has been a rise in hate crime across Adur and Worthing,” she added, speaking at a meeting of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the Town Hall last night.
Councillor David Simmons, who also worked on the report, said despite the findings hate crime remains a serious issue and much of it goes unreported:
“We deal with families where they will send their children from Adur to Worthing because of the xenophobia they are having with their own area.”
Churchill Ward councillor James Butcher said:
“It is nigh on impossible when you are a councillor not to come across racism.
“But I am not certain that all councillors know what is and what is not acceptable.
“We need to do more as members,” he added.
Mr Simmons said training courses on the subject were run in the past but that some councillors ‘never come’.
“We owe it not only to our communities but also to the council,” he said.
Mr Simmons also said social media is ‘a huge area which we are not touching’ and ‘extreme organisations’ often use social media to spread their messages.
“The wider issues around social media are a huge problem for us,” he added, saying it is often difficult to tell if victims of online hate crime live locally.
He called on members of the public to report incidents via the Self Evident App, a way of reporting crime and collecting evidence with a smartphone.