HOME Secretary Suella Braverman has been condemned for “encouraging racism” after she scolded a police force for sending officers to a pub to seize a collection of golliwog dolls.

An anonymous complaint was made about the White Hart Inn in Essex, and 15 dolls were seized last week by police because their presence was a suspected “hate crime”.

The Home Office waded into the incident, branding it "nonsense" before criticising the force.

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A Home Office source said: "The Home Secretary's views have now been made very plain to Essex Police so they're under no illusions.

"Police forces should not be getting involved in this kind of nonsense. It's about tackling anti-social behaviour, stopping violence against women and girls, attending burglaries and catching criminals – not seizing dolls."

However, Essex Police have said they had no contact from Braverman directly.

The golliwog first started appearing in children’s books in the late 19th century and became popular in the 1970s in the UK.

More recently, they have been widely considered to be a racist caricature of black people.

Campaigners have condemned Braverman over the Home Office’s response to the incident, calling her a “cheerleader for the far-right”.

Aamer Anwar, a prominent human rights lawyer, called Braverman “pathetic”. He added: "The Home Secretary knows exactly what she's doing – scraping the gutter of racism, turning back the clock to the 1970’s and acting as a cheerleader for the far-right.

“Golliwogs are nothing more than an ugly, nasty racist trope. The police really should be asking Cruella – does she not have anything better to do than jumping on yet another racist bandwagon?”

Lawyer and activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said Braverman “should be prosecuted”.

She tweeted: “Suella Braverman should be prosecuted for using her position as Home Secretary to normalise racism. Golliwogs are racist caricatures of Black people & display in a pub is a slap in face. I’ve been called a golliwog.

“It’s not only offensive, it’s objectively racist.”

The Scottish Greens also condemned Braverman. A spokesperson said: “These are not toys. They are based on very dated and racist caricatures and have no place in any kind of modern or progressive society.

“They are nothing to celebrate and should not be proudly displayed in pubs or used as part of the latest Tory culture war.”

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Stand Up To Racism co-convener Weyman Bennett said Suella Braverman was “encouraging racism” rather than combating it.

Bennett said: “It is reprehensible that the Home Secretary sees no problem with these racist dolls.

"The progress made over the several decades of resistance to racism and campaigning that had won widespread mainstream condemnation of such dehumanising racist hangovers of colonialism is now being reversed by this government.

“In a functioning democracy, it is not plausible that the government should carry out a campaign of intolerance and inflammatory language in order to simply bolster its place in polls.

“It is also part of a wider attempt to whip up racist division, using dog-whistle politics to give confidence to racists and the far right.”

This isn't the first time the pub has received complaints over the dolls.

In 2018, the owners refused to remove them after the local authority received a complaint.

Essex Police said: “We are investigating an allegation of hate crime reported to us on February 24.

“Essex Police have discussed the progression of this case with the Crown Prosecution Service.

“On Tuesday April 4, officers attended a location off Argent Street, Grays, and seized several items in connection with that investigation.

“The force is proud of the work we do prevent crime, tackle offenders and build trust and confidence in all communities.”