THE number of racist incidents seen in Oxford since the Brexit referendum has continued to rise, new figures have revealed.

The latest crime stats for the city show racially or religiously aggravated crimes reported to police last year have gone up by more than 40 per cent.

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In 2018, there were 188 crimes of this nature and a further 261 racists incidents reported in Oxford, compared to 134 and 191 respectively in 2017.

Sexual and drugs offences have both also skyrocketed, likely in part due to increased police and public attention on this area.

And although burglaries, violent crimes and vehicle thefts are all down, there have also been worrying rises seen in possession of weapons, harassment and public order offences.

The increased number of racist crimes, which could involve threatening behaviour, criminal damage or assault, appear to confirm campaigners' fears that the city is becoming less tolerant and welcoming to ethnic minorities.

Ewa Gluza, the president of the Oxford Polish Association said she feared the real number of incidents could be far higher with many still going unreported.

She said: "It's not ok but I can't say I'm surprised.

"A climate has been created by some politicians where immigrants have been blamed for everything.

"It is almost a habit for some people.

"We have to be very careful. Many times they do not want to make an official complaint because they fear for their jobs or what their neighbours will do.

"It's not just the Polish either. It is the same in lots of different communities.

"I'd expect the real numbers are far higher."

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Late last year, police bosses warned that investigating hate crimes was taking up an 'inordinate' amount of police time, which could be spent on tackling more serious offences instead.

This weekend, Oxford Stand up to Racism's Holocaust exhibition in Oxford Town Hall comes to an end.

Campaigners have used the event to warn that prejudice and far right views are on the rise again.

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The rise in rapes - up 19.1 per cent - represents a return to 2016 levels after a slight dip last year.

Lisa Ward, the director of Oxfordshire Rape Crisis, said: "It is difficult to say if this is because more are taking place or because people are feeling more confident reporting it to the police.

"People are more ready to speak out. It is something that is mirrored in the increases in people using our service."