Warsaw police on patrol in Essex after Polish man killed in ‘hate crime’

Polish police © Kacper Pempel
Two Polish police officers have been sent from Warsaw to the streets of Essex in southeast England following the killing of a Polish man and a spike in racist hate crime after Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

Harlow’s Polish community is said to be “scared and worried” after the killing last month of Arkadiusz Jóźwik, 40, by a gang of teenagers.

Jóźwik and a second Polish man were allegedly the victims of an unprovoked attack which is being described as a hate crime. The second victim was taken to hospital with suspected fractures to his hands and bruising to his stomach.

Three other Poles have also been attacked in separate incidents in the town.

Essex Police say the officers will be assisting local officers for a week to “support our engagement with the Polish community in Harlow,” according to the Huffington Post.

The Polish officers, second lieutenant Bartosz Czernicki and chief sergeant Dariusz Tybura, who arrived on Wednesday, will be in uniform but will not have any formal police powers.

A spokesperson for the Polish embassy in London says the move is designed to ease community tensions and reassure Poles.

“They are there to assist with community relations for Essex. They will be helping to foster dialogue with the Poles and to help them feel more safe and secure in the area.”

Two Polish officers are also currently on secondment to the Metropolitan Police in London.

Eric Hind, a Harlow-based Pole who organized a protest march in the town following Jóźwik’s killing, told the Guardian he was skeptical about the move.

“I welcome everyone who wants to help with this complex problem, but I haven’t noticed the difference. I really hope I can see them back on the street at 11pm tonight actually doing something for the community, dealing with things and not just posing for selfies,” he said.

“Many feel let down by the British government. We made the UK our home, but we don’t feel welcome here anymore. People are scared and worried.”

The deployment of the officers comes as the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, condemned attacks on Polish people in the UK.

“We Europeans can never accept Polish workers being beaten up, harassed or even murdered in the streets of Essex,” Juncker said.

In his state of the union speech to MEPs, he said Jóźwik’s murder showed the need to defend the EU’s right of free movement as part of the fight against racism, and warned that “galloping populism” threatened the EU with an existential crisis.

“The European Union still does not have enough union,” he said.

In the days following Britain’s vote to leave the EU, racist attacks reported to police increased by 57 percent.

The Polish embassy says it is aware of more than 29 attacks on Poles in the UK since the referendum.

In London, a Polish community center was also targeted just days after the EU referendum result. Officers say the vandalism, including graffiti across the doors of the center based in Hammersmith, was racially motivated.