Far-right groups are targeting hotels housing asylum seekers across Britain as they attempt to capitalise on hostility sparked by a rise in English Channel crossings.
Police have been called to several incidents where activists have filmed and harassed migrants, who have been placed in emergency accommodation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Extremists have been circulating lists of hotels to “investigate” on social media after Nigel Farage drew attention to the issue with a series of videos in July.
They have also been swamping websites with negative reviews of hotels that have taken up contracts with the Home Office, urging people not to stay there when they reopen.
Joe Mulhall, a senior researcher at counter-extremism group Hope Not Hate, said the trend was part of a “very long history of far-right groups and individuals across Europe attacking accommodation for migrants”.
“There is a zeal to it this summer because of the increase in boats and hotels being used,” he told The Independent.
“It’s become a cause célèbre. It unites a number of different strands who are active on the far right now.”
Sweden, Germany and Greece are among the countries that have seen violent attacks on migrant accommodation, including numerous arson attacks, since the start of the Mediterranean refugee crisis in 2014.
No significant violence has been reported during recent incidents in Britain, although a man was arrested for allegedly attacking a migrant on a Kent beach earlier this month.
Britain First, whose leader Paul Golding was convicted of a terror offence in May, has posted a series of recent videos after being ridiculed for attempting to use a yacht to “patrol” the English Channel.
On Saturday, police were called after Golding and a group of supporters tried to enter a Holiday Inn in outer London, before filming asylum seekers through windows and approaching anyone entering or leaving the building.
When questioned by officers, Golding did not identify himself and claimed he was filming a “political report for social media”.