Olivia Marks-Woldman, the chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, has said the results of a new survey showing the impact of hate speech in the UK are "shocking."
The YouGov survey, released to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day, found that more than a quarter of Britons had witnessed hate speech over the past year - with 41 per cent saying the abuse revolved around race or ethnicity.
Nearly two-thirds of the cases were on social media - with 12 per cent coming across more than five cases of hate speech.
Ms Marks-Woldman warned: "These findings are shocking. The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2018 is the power of words, and our research shows just how prevalent hate speech is today, and how powerful our words are.
“We know the repeated use of words normalises dangerous language and allows hatred to take root, which can ultimately lead to persecution.”
With 59 per cent of hate speech incidents in the survey taking place online the remainder were witnessed in public places such as on the street or public transport, or in a pub or shop.
An overwhelming 82 per cent of those who were surveyed said they believed social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter had a duty to do more to stop the rise of hate speech online.
“Words were used deliberately to create stereotypes and to target people and create division. And that normalised that kind of language and normalised the behaviour that goes along with it, and facilitated the next stages that led to the Holocaust and genocides that took place afterwards,” said Ms Marks-Woldman.