Police recorded a 42% rise in complaints of hate incidents – more than 3,000 – in the weeks before and after the EU Referendum, they revealed on Friday, while counter-terrorism officers investigated a series of packages containing white powder and racist messages sent to Muslim peer Lord Ahmed and others.

A number of packages discovered since Tuesday were being linked to a suspected hate campaign targeting mosques and some non-Muslim targets including the Bank of England, the Guardian has learned.

The white powder in the packages was harmless but may be meant to terrify those receiving it into believing it is a lethal biochemical weapon such as anthrax. Detectives are keeping an open mind as to what if any ideological motive is behind the packages. But the fact counter-terrorism officers are leading the investigation is a sign a hate motive is suspected.

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