An EU national living in Watford says anti-European graffiti which recently appeared on a town centre wall reflects a changing attitude towards foreigners living in the area.

Elisa Bonente, 39, originally from Italy, has been living in Watford for the last two years.

She was walking past the High Street Primark store last week when she spotted the crude daubings, which in poor English say “go home foriners” (sic) and “should of (sic) voted UKIP go home”, scrawled on the wall nearby.

“I felt really disappointed and sad. I know there are some important issues about safety and criminality in the UK, and I won’t say it’s just Britons’ fault, but what I truly know is that the majority of EU migrants come here just looking for better opportunities, and not to make trouble or steal jobs from British citizens,” she said.

“When you find that kind of silly racism on your way home, you feel also stunned because you never think that such a banal writing could make you sad, and wondering if it is really a welcoming place or if lots of people agree with that way of thinking.

“It’s quite an underhanded feeling because everybody lavishes welcoming messages on Europeans living in the UK but as long as Brexit subtracts from our rights, no European will feel accepted here at all, and even more people will feel justified in this racist opinion.

“You start thinking you don’t want to fight for your right where you are not welcome anymore. There’s no point to persist living in a country where you don’t feel welcome and totally accepted because you’re not an English native, even if you can speak English better than those who wrote that on the wall.”

Ms Bonente says she has not felt “totally safe” since the EU referendum, adding that she is now considering moving to a more tolerant country, a sentiment she says is shared by many other EU migrants.

Neighbourhood Inspector Nick Lillitou, of Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “Any criminal damage that is motivated by racial or religious hatred is a hate crime and totally unacceptable.

"Not only does it have a harmful impact on the individuals or groups that are the intended target of the crime, but it is also corrosive on the wider community as it is often that it is not just the victim who will see it.

“Hertfordshire Constabulary takes hate crime incidents very seriously and encourages victims and witnesses to report them."