Arson attack 'warning' to family told 'go back' to Poland after EU referendum


A Polish family targeted by racist arsonists said they have suffered a torrent of abuse since the EU referendum.

The family, who live in the Efford region of Plymouth, Devon, were targeted overnight on Wednesday into Thursday when a fire was started deliberately in a shed next to their house.

They managed to escape without injury, despite substantial damage to the property.

A note left near the scene warned of further reprisals if the family did not "go back" to Poland.

Ewa Banaszak, 22, said her two younger sisters and father were inside the home when the fire took hold.

Speaking on BBC2's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Ms Banaszak said the family had received a lot of support from the public and Devon and Cornwall Police since the fire.

She said: "We know this was a serious threat .

"Obviously we are still shocked and aware this might happen again, but know everybody is doing what they can to put our minds at ease, and that we are safe.

"It (the fire) obviously happened because we're from a different country. We have been living here for such a long time we consider this our home. People who are living around us are proving that to us."

She added: "We do feel that things have just got worse since the referendum. We get a lot more abuse from the other people."

Ms Banaszak said the family had been on the receiving end of insults in the past two years, with several incidents since Britain voted to leave the EU.

In a post on Facebook, shared thousands of times, Ms Banaszak wrote: "This is so sad and disturbing to go through ... Especially that we have been in here for 10 years, working, studying and putting (in) all that we can ... Please share and spread the word so that it doesn't happen to someone else."

Supporters commenting on the post described the incident as "disgusting" and "disgraceful".

Inspector Darren Green, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "I am appalled by this crime, and incidents of hate such as this are treated as a priority by my officers.

"Hate crime has no place in Plymouth and we will do everything possible to locate those responsible for the fire and the disgusting letter sent to the victims.

"We believe this fire was started deliberately, was racially motivated and could have endangered the lives of the occupants.

"We are asking for the public's help in this matter as someone will know who is responsible."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.