I am writing to you with regard to the article “How Romanian criminals terrorise our streets” published on the 27th of February by your paper.
In the current context of a predominantly negative rhetoric on immigration, I very much hope the British media will correctly inform the public about Romanians and Romania.
Criminality should be dealt with as a phenomenon and not referred to in relation to ethnicity or nationality. Romania has been a very active European and international partner in dealing with criminality. We have an excellent cooperation with the Metropolitan Police which has been materialised in numerous meetings with their leadership. A recent visit of Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to Romania, as well as the secondment of 10 Romanian police officers in a 3 month project (where they operated alongside Metropolitan Police officers, and sometimes in the Romanian Police uniform on the streets of London), are relevant in this respect.
Particularly, due to the partnership between the Romanian authorities - including our Embassy - and the Met, Romanian criminality has been substantially discouraged in London as well as in the United Kingdom.
Therefore, I believe your readers deserve more accurate information on this topic. First, the Met report speaks about “suspects in connection with crimes”, which not necessarily led to convictions. Then we should make distinction between the number of people arrested, those convicted and those detained. According to official statistics a total of 5,485,164 crimes were committed in England and Wales in 2012, while the British Courts pronounced in the same year 9,540 against Romanian citizens, which represents 0.17% of all crimes committed. However, out of the 9,540, at the end of 2012 only 624 Romanian citizens were in detention in the UK, the figure including also convictions in previous years. The figure of 9,540 convictions accounts for 7.9% of the Romanian community living in the UK.
If we consider that the Romanian presence in Britain is of approximately 100,000 – 120,000 persons, the figure of 9,540 convictions accounts for 7.9% of the Romanian community living in the UK. Taking into account that in many cases the same person has got several convictions during the same year, those 9,540 convictions were pronounced against a much lower number of Romanian offenders.
To have a sense of proportion, to 60 million inhabitants of the UK there are almost 5.5 million offences, the overall criminality rate being 9.16%, which is a little bit higher than that of the Romanian criminality rate (7.9%).
Moreover, Romanian offenders residing in the UK were mainly involved in low profile crimes (64% of the total offences being thefts) whereas high risk criminality is very low among Romanians (according to the same Met source, only 10 Romanian nationals were arrested for suspicions of murder in the last 5 years).
Misinterpreted figures could fuel the anti-immigration rhetoric and the fear of a new “wave” of foreigners from Europe. Because restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians will be lifted at the end of the year, they became targets of almost every debate related to immigration. The context is a kind of “Perfect Storm” where all conditions are met to be a victim, but it is absolutely unfair and undeserved by Romanians and Bulgarians living in the UK, because they bring their honest and, I would add, important contribution to the welfare of their host country.
I would highly appreciate if Daily Express will publish these clarifications.
Dr Ion Jinga
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