UK

Immigrant Romanian And Bulgarian Crime 'Falling Not Rising', New Police Figures Suggest

09/04/2014 13:32 BST | Updated 09/04/2014 14:59 BST

Despite doomsday predictions of a crime wave following the arrival of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants in January 2014, the number of arrests has barely fluctuated and charges have gone down since the beginning of the year, police figures show.

In the first three months of 2014 the number of Romanians convicted of crimes in the whole of the UK was 1,522, a 15.3% reduction from 1,797 in the same 2013 period, police figures obtained by the Romanian embassy show.

And according to separate Freedom of Information data published on the Metropolitan Police's website, the number of Romanians charged with an offence in London this January dropped 3%, compared to the same month last year.

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The figures show that "the proportion of crimes committed in London by Romanian nationals is in line with their representation in the population, if not lower," Romania's ambassador Ion Jinga told The Huffington Post UK.

Don Flynn, director of Migrants Rights Network, told HuffPost UK the figures "contradict the claims made in some sections of the tabloid media that crime figures would rocket".

Despite predictions by politicians and media that thousands more eastern Europeans would cross the border, the number of Romanian nationals arrested in January this year went up by just four to 563.

Romanians make up roughly 2.8% of all of the arrests made in London, where the Met makes approximately 20,000 arrests a month. Bulgarians make up just 0.4% - a total of 79 in the whole month of January.

The number of Bulgarians charged with crimes also dropped by 3.4%, compared to January last year.

"The fact is that the overall number of arrests and charges for criminal offences has remained steady over this time," Flynn continued.

"If we take into account an increase in the size of the Bulgarian and Romanian populations in the UK by around 40% during the course of 2013, then this suggests that crime rates are actually falling rather than growing."

Migration Watch, an anti-immigration lobby group, has previously estimated 50,000 Romanian and Bulgarian migrants a year will come to the UK for the next five years, but officials from both countries have denied the figure will be so large.

At a House of Commons debate in December, weeks prior to the restrictions lifting, Conservative MP Philip Hollobone said Britain was "importing a wave of crime from Romania and Bulgaria."

"There is currently a crime wave of bag snatchers and pickpockets on London underground," he said.

Romanian ambassador Dr Ion Jinga said, on viewing the Met figures, that it was "worth mentioning that in many cases Romanians are victim of crimes, with 543 persons in the first three months of 2014".

For the last six months, eight Romanian police officers have been seconded to the Met as part of the Operation Nexus, a joint project between the police and the UK Border Agency.

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