UK Police Struggling with Migrants

Television New Zealand, September 19, 2007

A police chief in Eastern England has called on the United Kingdom government to provide more cash to fight crime as an influx of migrant workers pressures resources.

Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Julie Spence said officers were being stretched by a wave of immigration and a fast-changing population.

She said migration, mainly fuelled by the area’s burgeoning agricultural industry, had major benefits but also a social downside including crime.

Much of it was driven by foreigners not understanding basic British laws. For instance, knife crime had jumped because more people were carrying them for protection.

Drink-driving among foreigners had gone up 17 times in the space of a year, partly because individuals were behaving as if they were in their own country.

There were growing translation costs and a rise in offences such as credit card skimming and people-trafficking.

“We are the fastest growing county in the UK,” Spence told BBC radio. “We have taken 50% of the eastern region’s migrant workers.

“We’ve also been an asylum and dispersal centre,” she said, adding that some elements that had moved in were engaging in criminal activity.

“We’ve been short-changed for a number of years, losing money as the population continues to grow,” she said in a statement.

“The profile of the county has changed dramatically and this simply isn’t taken into account when government allocates funding.”

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne acknowledged the burden of rising migration.

“It’s vital that we take the social impact of immigration into account when we make migration decisions,” he said in a statement.

“It’s also important that those we welcome into the UK to work and settle here understand our traditions, learn English and use our language.”

Spence said Cambridgeshire has 183 officers per 100,000 of the population compared to the national average of 266.

“We now deal with people from many different countries, speaking more than 90 different languages,” she said.

“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.”

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