Politicians should avoid inflaming the “incredibly febrile” atmosphere around Brexit, police chiefs have warned.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said public figures had a responsibility to make sure their language did not incite “consequences that weren’t intended”.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes, former public order police officer Graham Wettone said Mr Hewitt’s comments were intended as a “gentle reminder”.
“We have already seen some minor disorder which the police are more than capable of dealing with, but if it escalates people need to be conscious about what they say,” Mr Wettone said.
“There is a lot of rhetoric being spoken about people in authority and the public are reacting to this.
“It was a gentle reminder to everybody, both parties involved, that whatever happens let’s just keep our protests and our freedoms of speech restrained and respectful of everyone else’s views.”
The number of crimes linked to Brexit, although small, has more than doubled in a fortnight, with 26 last week and 11 the week before.
About half were malicious communications, while the remainder included verbal abuse, harassment and protest activity.
Police chiefs also revealed more than 10,000 riot-trained officers were ready to be deployed within 24 hours in the event of civil unrest.
Currently 1,000 have received extra training so that they can be deployed to Northern Ireland if needed.
So far 15 forces have placed restrictions on annual leave, and two have officially asked for mutual aid - Kent, which covers the port of Dover, and Hampshire, which covers Portsmouth.
Forces are expected to cut down on "peripheral police activity" like crime prevention work and to cancel training if needed.