THE European Referendum evoked strong emotions on both sides of the debate.

It polarised views – and prompted a wave of hate crimes across the country.

Even now, three weeks after the historic vote to leave Europe, the unpleasant side-effects are being felt.

Nationally, reported incidents increased by 42 per cent in the weeks immediately before and after the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Mark Hamilton, head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said it seemed that the referendum was seen as a licence to behave in a racist or other discriminatory way.

And it appears Craven has not been immune to the racial tensions.

This week, Skipton MP Julian Smith – who voted to remain in Europe – revealed he was subjected to abuse during the campaign.

For the first time in his six-year Parliamentary career, he felt threatened on the streets of Skipton.

It is an appalling indictment of the town, which is home to numerous nationalities.

Mr Smith says is not the only one to have been abused – several constituents have also raised concerns at his surgeries.

Now, he has decided to speak out in a bid to highlight the problem, so it can be nipped in the bud.

He is calling on individuals and businesspeople who witness incidences of racial abuse not to ignore it, but to report them to the police.

Racial abuse and hate crimes are criminal acts and the perpetrators need to be punished.

As Mr Smith says, Skipton has a fantastically diverse community, which, for the most part, lives happily cheek-by-jowl.

That is something that needs to be maintained for the good of all its residents.

We do not have to agree with each other – indeed, debate is healthy – but we do have to be tolerant of opposing views.