Migrant Workers Importing Crime, Say Police

Immigrant workers are importing their national feuds and criminal behaviour to rural England, a police chief said yesterday.

Julie Spence, the chief constable of Cambridgeshire, said they were arriving with “different standards” from the native population.

Some carried knives for personal protection and others did not have such strict views on drink-driving.

In the past year, drink-drive figures showed a 17-fold rise in arrests of foreigners.

Since 2004, 83,000 east Europeans have registered to work in Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties. Many more have arrived to join large groups of already-established workers from western EU countries, such as Portugal.

Mrs Spence said: “When they arrive they think they can do the same thing as in the country they have come from. There were a lot of people who… because they used to carry knives for protection, think they can carry knives here.

“We have worked with the communities because they don’t necessarily come to commit crime but they need to be told what you can and can’t do.”

She added: “We can identify a significant rise in drink-drive, which was down to people thinking that what they did where they came from they could do here. Their attitudes to drink-drive are probably where we were 20 years ago.”

The chief constable said her small force was struggling to cope with the growing number of immigrants working mainly at picking and packing crops and in food processing.

She said Home Office grants to support manning levels had failed to keep pace with the rising population. The county now has 187 officers per 100,000 people compared with 192 five years ago and a national average of 266.

Mrs Spence said it could take three times longer to deal with a crime involving an offender, witness or victim who did not speak English.

It was more expensive because of the need for interpreters, with up to 90 languages being spoken.

There was also a problem with “feuds” between foreign nationals being brought toBritain, she said.

“We recently had a murder and it was a Lithuanian on Lithuanian and it could easily have happened in Lithuania.

“But it didn’t, it happened in Wisbech, so one of my staff spent a lot of time in Lithuania trying to get underneath what was actually happening with the crime, which brings costs that you wouldn’t have had before, which means something else has to give.”

She added: “We’ve been short-changed for a number of years, losing money as the population continues to grow.

“The profile of the county has changed dramatically and this simply isn’t taken into account when Government allocates funding. We now deal with people from many different countries, speaking more than 90 different languages.

“While the economic benefits of growth are clear we need to maintain the basic public services infrastructure, which means increasing the number of officers we have.”

Cambridgeshire Police has produced a guide to behaving in Britain that is available in 15 languages. It warns immigrants not to touch or fondle people without their permission; not to urinate or spit in public; and that people may find it intimidating to be stared at.

Mrs Spence’s concerns are shared by neighbouring constabularies and also by local government leaders who say the whole public sector in the South and East is under strain. Their principal complaint is that official population figures substantially underestimate the number of immigrants.

A report prepared by Cambridgeshire Police Authority maintains that actual population growth has been ignored by Whitehall. It predicts that the county’s population will grow by 12 per cent over the next few years and that three quarters of this – 69,000 people – will be a consequence of immigration.

Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said Mrs Spence was right to raise the social impact of immigration. But he added: “Cambridgeshire has had something like a 20 per cent boost in funding in real terms over the last decade, and crime is down significantly. So we’ve got to be quite careful about singling out any particular section of society and pinning the blame for crime on them.”

However, similar stories have been reported from other parts of the country.

In London, more than one in five crimes committed in the capital in the first six months of this year were carried out by a foreign citizen.