British attitudes toward refugees are hardening

British attitudes toward accepting refugees have hardened, according to a BBC poll.

The proportion of people who say Britain should allow fewer refugees into Britain has risen from 31 per cent in September 2015 to 41 per cent in January 2016, according to a survey by Comres.

Over half of those surveyed supported refugees living in their local area once they had been accepted into the UKReuters

Only 24 per cent of the 2,204 questioned said the UK should accept more refugees. This has dropped from 40 per cent in September, around the time that photographs of two-year-old Syrian Alan Kurdi, who drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean, were published.

However over half of those surveyed supported refugees living near them once they are brought to the UK.

Unsurprisingly, there was a significant disparity of views depending on region and age.

In the West Midlands 50 per cent said fewer refugees should be resettled in the UK. However in London, 60 per cent of adults thought more refugees should be accepted.

In the North East, only 15 per cent thought more refugees should be able to come whereas that figure was 31 per cent in the South East.

Those under the age of 34 were "significantly more likely" to say Britain should accept more refugees than those aged 65 and over.

Many will point to incidents such as the atrocities in Paris and the New Year's Eve attacks in Cologne to explain this shift. However almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of those surveyed said the attacks on women in the German city should not affect willingness to accept migrants into the UK. Additionally 69 per cent thought the incident received more news coverage because the perpetrators included migrants.

Nevertheless 61 per cent said accepting refugees from countries such as Syria and Libya puts Britain's security at risk and over half (56 per cent) said Britain's economy cannot afford to accept any more.

A spokesman for Migration Watch, which campaigns for stricter immigration controls, told the BBC: "The poll results come as no surprise and underline the public's concern both with levels of migration and the seemingly endless flow of asylum seekers, many of whom turn out to be economic migrants simply looking for a better life."

However Krish Kandiah, founder of fostering charity Home for Good, insisted there was "still a great appetite to help children".

"As I travel around the UK I find people who are desperate to give hospitality to refugee children. Behind the figures in the poll are people, and millions of them still support welcoming refugees to the UK," he said.

"Focusing on that, and what we know is achievable in the UK to help people in dire situations, should be the priority."

The figures comes as world leaders gather for a conference in London today on fundraising for Syria.