Hardworking Romanians in Britain are having their lives and reputations ruined by misleading statistics and "scaremongering" rhetoric from the media and politicians, the Romanian ambassador has claimed.
Writing for The Huffington Post UK, Dr Ion Jinga says there is no evidence to suggest any increase in crime since Romanians began settling in Britain, and said statistics are wilfully manipulated to portray his countrymen in a bad light.
"Part of the media disproportionately associates migrants with theft, pick pocketing and begging but these are phenomena affecting all major cities since the ancient times. It has neither emerged in the recent years in Europe, nor is related to Eastern European communities that have settled into Western countries."
"Unfortunately, distorted and biased information about a 'crime wave' after 1 January 2014 is damaging their lives and reputation.
"An illustrative example is the allegation made by politicians whose assumed aim is to “cause an earthquake” in Britain by leaving the EU and sending foreigners back to their home countries: '27,000 Romanians were arrested for the last five years'. First, “arrested” is very much different from 'charged' or 'convicted'.
"A simple ID check in traffic becomes an 'arrest' in statistics if you are asked to go to the police station for ID verification, even though you are released immediately after. Second, it doesn’t mean that 27,000 Romanians were “arrested”, because in many cases the same person was arrested several times.
"Third, this figure is Romanian citizens convicted in the first half of 2013 has fallen by 20% compared with the same period of 2012."
His blog comes as several newspapers reported today that many Romanians in France are considering moving to Britain to "get benefits here". But Dr Jinga said Romanians have the "highest employment rate in this country – 85%, with almost 40% having a university degree.
"They work hard, pay taxes and are valued by their employers. They put into the British public purse more than they take out."
Dr Jinga said all research suggested that Romanians did not name the UK as their preferred destination, when the rules change to allow EU migration from Romania in 2014.
"Of those who wanted to emigrate, many have already done so in the past seven years," he said.
"Migration from Romania may have seemed a solution during a time of economic crisis, but now our economy is growing and we need our people to come back home and use their skills there.
"What is for sure – and was recently confirmed by the Europol Director – is that the lifting of restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians next January will not bring an increase in the crime rate in Britain."