Poland concerned by 'xenophobic abuse' of Poles in Britain after Brexit vote

 A pedestrian walking past the Polish Social and Cultural Association after graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom, in Hammersmith, London, Britain on June 27, 2016
A pedestrian walking past the Polish Social and Cultural Association after graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom, in Hammersmith, London, Britain on June 27, 2016PHOTO: REUTERS
Union flags are attached between buildings along Oxford street in central London on June 27, 2016.
Union flags are attached between buildings along Oxford street in central London on June 27, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Reuters/AFP) - The Polish embassy in London said on Monday (June 27) it was deeply concerned by what it said were recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community since Britain voted to leave the European Union.

Police said offensive leaflets targeting Poles had been distributed in Huntingdon, central England, and graffiti had been daubed on a Polish cultural centre in central London on Sunday, three days after the vote. Both incidents were being treated as racially motivated hate crimes, the police said.

The Polish embassy said in a statement: "We are shocked and deeply concerned by the recent incidents of xenophobic abuse directed against the Polish community and other UK residents of migrant heritage.

"At the same time, we would like to (offer thanks) for all the messages of support and solidarity with the Polish community expressed by the British public."

In a response to the reported incidents of abuse, British Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman on Monday said the government "will not tolerate intolerance". "We should be absolutely clear that this government will not tolerate intolerance... intimidating migrants, telling them they need to go home," his spokesman told journalists.

Immigration emerged as one of the key themes of the EU referendum campaign, with those who backed a British exit arguing the bloc had allowed uncontrolled numbers of migrants to come to Britain from eastern Europe.

Cambridgeshire Police said officers had met upset members of the local Polish community after offensive leaflets were left on cars and delivered to homes on Sunday.

According to the local paper, the Cambridge News, the cards, which had a Polish translation, read: "Leave the EU/No more Polish vermin".

"The production and distribution of this and any other similar material is committing the crime of inciting racial hatred," said Detective Superintendent Martin Brunning in a statement.

At the Polish Social and Cultural Association in London, which opened in 1974 and is home to the majority of Britain's Polish organisations, graffiti was painted on the side of the building calling on Poles to leave the United Kingdom.

"This is an outrageous act that disgusts not only me and the Polish community but everyone in Hammersmith & Fulham," local lawmaker Andy Slaughter said on Twitter.