Unconditional Welcome

Jeff Corbett, The Herald (Newcastle, NSW), July 28, 2009

It should not surprise anyone that the Australian jailing rates of people of different countries of birth varies and varies greatly. I set about compiling such a list of these jailing rates when I learnt this week that statistics on crime by country of birth are not readily available. At the time I was seeking material for a column and blog on our national reluctance to deport visitors who prey on us criminally.

I compiled the list here by marrying country-of-birth statistics in an Australian Bureau of Statistics report, Prisoners in Australia 2008, with 2006 census figures for population by country of birth. In yesterday’s blog I told how people in Australia who were born in Italy are the least likely to commit a serious crime, or more accurately are the least likely to be jailed for a serious crime, with one in 2620 of them being in jail for such a crime in 2007/08. Here is the full list of 30:

[AR News Editor’s note: The countries are ranked in reverse order of likelihood to have sent to prison immigrants who are in Australia. Immigrants from Italy are the most law-abiding, followed by Indians and Dutch. The large number in each entry is the number of law-abiding immigrants from each country for each immigrant who is in jail. In other words, one in 2,620 Italian immigrants to Australia is in jail. At the other, most crime-prone extreme–see the 30th entry–one in just 137 Tongan immigrants is in jail. Australians, themselves, are 17th on the list. Nationalities 18 through 30 are therefore more crime-prone than Australians. Nationalities 1 through 16 are less crime-prone.

[The other numbers, 14th, 15th, etc., indicate the ranking for particular crimes. For example, Indians are the second-most law-abiding immigrants, but are only 14th-most law-abiding when it comes to murder.]

1. Italy (one in) 2620. None jailed for robbery.

2. India 2195. High murder rate, at 14th.

3. Netherlands 2192. High sex assault, 17th; no robbery.

4. South Africa 1964. High drug crime, 14th.

5. Greece 1896. Relatively high murder and drugs; low robbery.

6. Germany 1868. 15th in sex assault.

7. UK 1632. Low drugs.

8. Sri Lanka 1596. 19th in sex assault; lowest drug crime.

9. The Philippines 1545. Low sex crime.

10. Malaysia 1465. No robbery; low sex crime, 4th.

11. Hong Kong 1305. High drug crime, 17th.

12. China 1208. No sex crime; 20th for drug offences.

13. Singapore 999. No robberies; high drug crime, 26th.

14. United States 907. No robbery.

15. Canada 810. No robbery.

16. Yugoslavia 730. Murder 21st, drugs 23rd.

17. Australia 637. Low drugs, 6th.

18. Thailand 598. No sex assault.

19. Cambodia 570 (in front of Iraq by a whisker). No sex assault; high drugs, 28th.

20. Iraq 570. Lower for robbery, 13th.

21. New Zealand 514. Lower drugs, 12th.

22. Turkey 395. Higher murder, 27th; lower robbery, 12th.

23. Fiji 394. Very low drugs, 4th.

24. Papua New Guinea 387. Lower robbery, 14th; lower drugs, 15th.

25. Sudan 380. Low drugs at 11th.

26. Lebanon 358. Lower sex assault, 12th.

27. Romania 266. No murder; no sex assault; lower robbery, 15th; second highest drugs, 29th.

28. Vietnam 233. Highest drugs; low sex assault, 8th.

29. Samoa 173. Second highest murder; lower drugs, 13th.

30. Tonga 137. Highest murder; high sex assault, robbery, drugs.

Is there a point at which the criminal record of certain nationalities of migrants and visa-free visitors to Australia becomes unacceptable? Or should we smile a welcome while being murdered, sexually assaulted, robbed and beaten?

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