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Nigel Farage has expressed regret over remarks he made about Romanian immigrants last week.
The Ukip leader told LBC Radio: “I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be.”
He later told BBC News: “I didn’t use the form of words in response that I would have liked to have used.
“I should have just hit back immediately and said: ‘Look, understand there is a real problem here – you can’t deny it – too much criminality from these gangs has come to London.’”
In a full-page advert in today’s Telegraph, Mr Farage repeats three key claims about supposed Romanian criminality.
Note that these Met figures do suggest that Romanian nationals are disproportionately more likely to be arrested for certain other types of crime in certain locations: almost half the beggars arrested in 2012 were Romanian across London and in one London borough, Westminster, the proportion was 70 per cent.
“28,000 Romanians were arrested in the last five years in the Metropolitan Police area alone”
This number is accurate (it’s 27,725, to be precise) and comes from another Met Police Freedom of Information release. This is based on the nationalities people use to describe themselves when arrested, hence the inclusion of a number of “countries” that no longer exist (the Irish Free State, British Central Africa) or indeed have never existed (Yanam).
The data has been very widely misreported and indeed Mr Farage got it slightly wrong again in today’s Telegraph ad.
The figure of 28,000 is for the number of arrests made over five years from 2008 to 2012, not the number of people. One shoplifter can be arrested and re-arrested dozens of times and each one of those arrests counts towards this total.
But of course this applies to all countries, and compared to others, Romania does not come out of these arrest figures covered in glory.
Only Poland saw more arrests of its citizens over those five years (nearly 35,000) and there are likely to be many more Poles living in the Met Police area.
We can’t be precise about this because the next population survey doesn’t come out until August next year (recent estimates from the Labour Force Survey suggest there are in the region of 180,000 working age Romanians in the whole of England, but there are big margins of error here).
The latest census data showed there were 579,000 Poles and 73,000 Romanians in England and Wales in 2011.
Unless our estimates of the likely Romanian population in the capital are out by an enormous amount, it is safe to say that the average Romanian is more likely to be arrested than the average Pole.
The country’s ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, has been at pains to point out that arrests are not the same as convictions, which is quite right.