Monday, April 29, 2013

New Meme- Immigration Reduces Crime.

In an otherwise very interesting article about declining crime rates in the UK and the West more generally the Observer's Andrew Rawnsley discusses possible explanations:

More immigrants. (Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than the indigenous population.). 

This is in fact the opposite of what actually occurs. Foreign nationals make up about one seventh of the UK prison population which is far greater than their percentage in the population. That doesn't even take into account those immigrants who are now UK citizens. In some European countries foreign nationals make up an even higher percentage of the prison population. So unless our justice system is racist on a scale that makes Apartheid South Africa look like paradise his claim cannot be true.

What I suspect Andrew Rawnsley has done is either import a meme from the USA (because in the States immigrants do have a lower crime rate than the population at large.) or he has swallowed misleading propaganda from the likes of ACPO.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Rawnsley is being gloriously stupid.

Not only is it provably the case that immigrants commit as much crime as UK born people (give or take a bit either way), at best, this is only a small percentage of a small percentage of a percentage.

So if population is 10% immigrants and even if immigrants commit 10% less crime than UK born people, then

a) The amount of crime still goes up in absolute terms

b) The number of crimes committed per capita population only goes down by 1%.
The other possibility is that the presence of large numbers of immigrants suddenly makes UK born people feel all law-abiding and discourages them from committing crime, but that seems highly unlikely to me.

Ross said...

In fairness to Rawnsley he was listing it as one possible explanation among many- I assume he wasn't arguing that it was the main cause.