02/12/2011 02:30 GMT | Updated 31/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Migrant Numbers 'Not Linked' To Immigration Attitudes

There is no link between the number of immigrants in a British region and local attitudes towards immigration, according to new research.

A survey conducted by Oxford University's Migration Observatory found that 69% of Britons would like to see cuts in the number of immigrants coming to Britain, but a higher number of immigrants in their area did not equate to heightened concern about immigration.

Londoners, of whom 37% are foreign-born, are the most sympathetic towards immigration. In the capital, 46% would like the number of immigrants coming to Britain to be reduced while 39.9% would like the number to remain the same or increase.

In Scotland, however, where just 4.4% of the population is foreign-born, support for maintaining current levels of immigration rivals London. A total of 39.3% would like to see levels remain the same or increase, while 56% would like to see a reduction.

Across the UK, 70.37% of those in the North, 75% of those in the South, and 75% of those in the Midlands and Wales would like to see levels of immigration reduced.

Researchers also looked at whether London's high foreign-born population accounted for its relatively high opposition to immigration cuts.

They found that white British-born nationals living in London were significantly less likely to support cuts to immigration than white British respondents elsewhere in the country, suggesting that London's lower support for cuts to immigration is not exclusively the result of its high immigrant population.

Dr Scott Blinder, Oxford University Migration Observatory's public opinion specialist, said: "From our findings we don't observe any correlation between number of migrants in a region and attitudes towards immigrants."

He added: "We speculate that in London there's research to show that actually personal contact makes people more positive about certain groups. But that doesn't explain Scotland."