The 'Police struggling...' articles fits in nicely with what I've been banging on about recently with stories not standing alone, but feeding into a broader narrative that creates its own ideology.
In itself, there's nothing wrong with reporting what a Chief Constable has noted about the effects of migration on her force. What's interesting here is how these particular comments are slotted into the wider Daily Mail Immigration is a Bad Bad Thing narrative.
For instance, there's this:
The Cambridgeshire chief constable accused the Government of "short-changing" her force, and called for extra funding. Her views are likely to be shared by other forces who are having to police at least 700,000 arrivals from the former Eastern Bloc.As well as sneaking in a bit of the paper's idle speculation alongside the reporting of what Chief Constable Spence actually said (by saying the 'is likely to be shared' bit) this paragraph repeats the familiar Mail technique of counting every single Eastern European who has ever applied to the Worker Registration Scheme, including those whose applications were rejected, those who never came to the UK and those who have left the UK. Sure, the actual quote only says '700,000 arrivals', but 700,000 people don't have to be policed. Most of them have almost definitely gone home.
After that, there's the repeat of the Government estimate of 13,000 arrivals a year without mentioning that the estimate was based on what would happen if other EU countries didn't implement restrictions, when they in fact did.
Further down, there's this:
Earlier this year, the Audit Commission warned Eastern European immigration had brought social disorder and crime.Which is a reference to the report I covered in 'Does the Mail ever tell the truth about reports?' in which I showed how the Audit Commission report that was supposed to have said that migration had brought disorder and crime actually said something close to the polar opposite:
There is little evidence that the increased numbers of migrant workers have caused significant or systematic problems in respect of community safety or cohesion.and:
Police report isolated examples of hate crimes, but there is no regular or widespread disorder.and pointed out that incidents were generally 'minor' and characterised them as 'small tensions'. So what we have here is the paper referring to its own created mythology which exaggerated what an external source said about the negative effects of immigration.
What the Mail has done with this article is take comments from a Chief Constable arguing that her force needs more resources to deal with the sort of problems that a large number of new people with different customs and attitudes will bring to an area - mostly minor things like driving offences - and made them part of an Eastern European Crimewave myth.
And the paper does that not only by mentioning its own mythology, but also by the positioning of the story. Of course, in the paper version, this story appears on the same page as 'Romanians living in UK carry out 1,000 crimes in six months'. In fact, it appears directly below it, and half of the online headline is left off so it just reads 'We're struggling to cope say police'. There's also less of a definite break between the two stories than there is between the two on the opposite page - so we're obviously supposed to connect these two. One leads to the other.
The main story on the page has the headline 'Romanians carry out 1,000 crimes here in six months' in the paper version. This is what leads to police forces being unable to cope, or so we are to infer. Part of the story is taken pretty much wholesale from the More4 report 'Do EU migrants fuel crime levels?', which has plenty of problems of its own. It mentions that the crimes range from pickpocketing to ATM theft, mentions begging children and children being trafficked but it doesn't give us a detailed breakdown of what the offences are, so we have no idea of the proportion of the seriousness of the crimes. Are we talking about Fagin or Capone here? One would be far more dangerous than the other. Also, all the people in Romania interviewed who tell of how nasty the Romanian gangs are are talking about how nasty they are in Romania rather than in the UK. There's a somewhat questionable translation included, with some writing on a big house that says 'Nunta lui Maradona - Anglia, UK' being translated as 'Conman's house, thanks to the UK', but as far as I can see from translation sites, 'nunta' translates as 'wedding' - and the use of the word 'Maradona' (as far as I can tell not a Romanian word but a use of the footballer's name) to mean 'conman' is more than a little subjective. We could be talking about someone's nickname here. The More4 report on its own could do with some heavy looking into, as there's a ton of assumptions being made - most of which taken care of with disclaimers about how there's not enough hard evidence, and uses of the word 'allegedly'.
Even so, the Mail's coverage embellishes it nicely. There's this:
In an ironic twist Romanian authorities say crime there is dropping, fuelling suspicions that some offenders may have moved here.Only one person from authority in one town is interviewed who says anything like this - the Mayor of Tandarei. You'd never refer to Ken Livingstone as 'British authorities'. He's talking about a village that has seen almost a third of its population move to the UK rather than the whole of Romania. Any place whose population drops by a third is going to get quieter.
The Mayor of Tandarei is quoted directly later in the story, but since there's a fair bit of information in between the original statement and the quote, we're given the impression that there are two separate statements here. The Mayor of Tandarei's quote looks like just one typical example of many set up with the 'Romanian authorities' sentence, but it is in fact the only example.
There's some switching between different sources that goes on around this point in the story, which gives the misleading impression that the information is all from the same source - much like the technique used in another article written about Romanians by the same journalist as the two I'm covering today, in the 'How the Daily Mail lies about immigration' series.
The story here starts with its stuff about the 'Romanian authorities' which comes from the More4 report and then shifts to stuff that comes from a leaked Home Office memo from last year, back to the More4 report and then back to the leaked memo again. Both mentions of the leaked memo add a little embellishment to earlier coverage. At the time, the Mail reported in its characteristically understated story '45,000 criminals bound for Britain' (by the same hack, natch) that:
Among these [14,000 predicted Romanian and Bulgarian arrivals] are expected to be 45,000 identified by immigration officials as having links to crime, immigration offences and passport fraud. [Emphasis mine].Both mentions in this article ignore the 'expecteds' and 'estimateds' and replaces them with 'would'. Nice. Made up, but nice.
In the print version of the paper, there's a nice '683,000 Eastern Europeans are registered to work in the UK' box in the middle of this article about Romanians. What is this meant to do but invite us to link the increase in the number of crimes committed by Romanians (which only applies to London, by the way) to all Eastern Europeans in the UK? The inclusion of the 'Police can't cope' article below it only compounds this impression, so that a rise of 700% of crimes committed by Romanians in London becomes a massive tidal wave across the country that police forces can't cope with. Clever that.
But there hasn't really been a tidal wave. 1,080 crimes have been committed by Romanians in London in the six months from 1 January. In the same period, 447,628 crimes have been reported in the Metropolitan Police area.
*UPDATE* Since writing this post, I realised that the information in this article had appeared weeks ago in the Mail article 'Foreigners commit 20 per cent of crime in London, say police', which revealed that a total of 106,678 crimes had actually been committed in the first six months of this year. That means that although there has been a 700% increase in the number of crimes committed in London by Romanians, the total represents about 1% of crime. Hardly a crimewave.
Sure, 135 to 1,080 is a big rise - but enough to scare people with? Especially without knowing how serious the crimes are? As I said before, are we talking about Fagins or Capones here? How many of the offences are low level stuff like driving offences? This stuff is important if you're actually interested in finding out what problems might arise from an increase in a population and what should be done about them.
If you're just trying to scare people though, that stuff's better left out.
*UPDATE* The same Mail article mentioned in the last update also points out that the largest number of crimes committed by Romanians in the capital is theft/handling (note that theft is not mugging, which is robbery) so we're almost definitely talking about Fagins here.