As the moment of lifting restrictions on the labour market approaches, it seems that, for a part of the British media, Romanians are the perfect scapegoat to be held responsible for almost everything that goes wrong in the UK. A recent article published by Daily Mail claiming that "Romanians arrested at seven times rate of Britons" is just another unfortunate example.
The article contains outrageous distortions of reality which tries to manipulate the British public opinion. Following its publication, the Embassy of Romania received apologies from the Metropolitan Police for the way the presentation they made at the City Hall on fighting crime in London, was distorted in the article.
The Daily Mail claims that "For every 1000 Romanians in London, 183 are arrested". As the number of Romanians arrested is 800, it is supposed that the total Romanian community in London is around 4,300 persons... In fact, there are more than 60,000 people.
So, in reality, for every 1,000 Romanians in London, only 13 were arrested, which - according to the figures presented by Daily Mail ("26 Britons per 1000 are arrested in London") - is half of the arrest rate for Britons.
Needless to say that "arrested" is different from "convicted" or "charged" and in many cases the same person has been arrested several times. A simple ID check could become an "arrest" if the person is invited to the police station and registered in the database.
During the presentation the New Scotland Yard has done to the City Hall, three examples of foreign nationals arrested were given. None of them was of Romanian nationality, but pictures joining the article in the Daily Mail show Roma/gypsy people, allegedly presented as "Homeless Romanians" - this is more that manipulation, this is racism! Some of the rough sleepers and beggars in central London are Romanian gypsies, but they represent only a tiny minority of all those people sleeping rough or begging in the area.
The article also suggests that many of those people are linked to cash point fraud, but there is no evidence at all that beggars are involved in counterfeiting cards or stealing from cash machines. According to a recent statement of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit in London: "The latest annual figures show that, in 2012, the top five countries for fraudulent activity on UK issued cards were USA, France, Luxembourg, Italy and Ireland". Romanians are not mentioned on this top list. In fact, in their overwhelming majority, Romanians in the UK are well integrated, work hard, they respect the law and are respected by the local communities they are living in.
As mentioned in the presentation made by the Metropolitan Police, I have recently met representatives of the operation Nexus. The British officers reassured me that the proportion of crimes committed in London by Romanian nationals is similar to their proportion in London's population. This confirms what the home secretary has recently made clear, that the level of crime by foreign national in the capital is line with their representation in the population. Romanians make no exception. Just a couple of days ago, hundreds of police officers from the MET, together with Romanian and Polish colleagues, organized a raid in Soho in crackdown on organized crime. They have operated 30 arrests, but no Romanian was arrested. As crime statistics show, in the last quarter the number of crimes committed by Romanian citizens in the UK has decreased by 20%. This is also due to the excellent cooperation we have developed between Romanian and British police forces.
Last September, the business secretary Vince Cable remarked that "Britain is developing an absolutely toxic public opinion on immigration". If this is the case, I believe that by distorting figures and evidence related to the presence of foreigners in the UK, part of the British media has a huge responsibility in this.