I was stonewalled when I asked Cambridgeshire Police for migrant crime figures in Wisbech – my home town which has witnessed murders among its new Eastern European community – after submitting a Freedom of Information request for this information which I believed they would keep a record of.
I was told:
It is estimated that it will take a minimum of 25,000 hours a t a cost of £25 an hour to view 500,008 records to provide an answer to this request which is above the 18 hour cost limit.
This is due to the fact that in order to ascertain if the offender was a ‘migrant’ would require us to read all of the crimes to try and discover if the offender was in fact a ‘migrant’. Each crime would also need to be reviewed to ascertain the number of crimes committed by Eastern Europeans and also for any crimes appertaining to Wisbech.
However, thankfully the Metropolitan Police are much more open about sharing their data and do not conceal this information. In today’s Times, crime editor Sam O’Nell publishes figures which were obtained following a FOI request asking for details about the number of foreign nationals arrested since 2008 for murder, rape, burglary, robbery, violent offences and sexual assaults. They were willing provided. Figures published by Scotland Yard show that Poles topped the list with 34,905 of them being detained over the last five years followed by 27,725 Romanians and 18,595 Lithuanians. Why isn’t Cambs Police open in the same way?
It makes practical sense to me to have an understanding of rising migrant crime figures so measures can be taken to deal with it, so a strategy can be created. The Met thinks along the same lines and has taken this on board by bidding for European Union funding to finance a team of detectives and specialist officers from foreign forces. Under the plan, up to 30 officers would be deployed initially for three years. Romania and Poland have signed up and the Met is in talks with police in Lithuania and Ireland to join the unit. If successful, the scheme could be widened.
Is this something Wisbech needs now?