SOMETIMES, you can look at a front page headline and instantly know it's bullshit. Like if it's on the front page of the Daily Express and...well, and nothing really. Just if it's on the front page of the Daily Express.

Funnily enough: not really true - and even if it was, it would mean that migrants are less likely to be arrested than everyone else. It's a win double!

'EVERY 4 MINUTES A MIGRANT IS ARRESTED IN BRITAIN' screams the headline, popping a metaphorical vein in the paper's metaphorical forehead.

So, what piece of research has the paper distorted to get this figure then? If the headline hadn't made your bullshit detector go off in wavy lines from your head like your own personal Spidey-sense, then these words are guaranteed to:
The Daily Express investigation presents the most detailed picture yet of the impact immigration is having on crime levels and police resources.
A Daily Express investigation, eh? That must be worth the paper it's printed on.

Here's the Express investigation's methodology. I should have put tabloid style scare quotes around 'methodology', because it's so rubbish:
Figures from 26 police forces received under the Freedom of Information Act showed that a total of 79,308 foreign nationals were arrested in 2006 – the latest year for which figures are available. They represented seven per cent of the total number of arrests.

If the level of arrests was reflected across the remaining forces which failed to supply information, it would mean more than 131,100 foreigners arrested in one year. That is the equivalent of up to 360 a day, or one every four minutes.
So, the investigation covers less than half the police forces in the country and includes the one that arrests more people than any other force - the Met.

Luckily, the Daily Mail tried to scare the shit out of us six months ago with figures for the number of foreign nationals arrested and charged by the Met. From it, we can see that 22,793 foreign nationals were arrested and charged by the Met in a six month period in 2007. That would work out at roughly 45,000 a year. Since many people who get arrested don't get charged, we know that the number of arrests of foreign nationals will be higher than that for those arrested and charged, so the Met accounts for way over half the arrests the Express has recorded.

Another thing we know is that police forces are not required to record the nationality of the people they arrest. Which forces are the least likely to bother recording those details - the ones who arrest lots of migrants and want to track how many get in trouble so they can call for more funding, or the ones who never even see a foreigner for most of the year?

In any case, the idea that the forces who didn't supply information even arresting as many as the Met, let alone the other forces that did, is very funny. Another thing that's very funny is the way the paper tries to scare us with that 7% of the total number of arrests figure, and tells us that there are 5.4 million migrants in the country. What the article leaves out is that 5.4 million migrants only makes up about 9% of the population, so migrants would actually less likely to be arrested than everyone else, even if we did accept the paper's shonky 'investigation' as accurate.

Another nice little bit is this:
One prediction estimates there will be 9.1million immigrants by 2030 – up from 5.4million at present.
Remember, that 9.1 million figure appears to have been made up by the Express in the first place.

A perfect example of a paper telling its readers what it thinks they want to hear regardless of the facts - which are that migrants are less likely to be arrested, and the overall crime rate is falling. Sure, there are places where Chief Constables claim certain types of crime have risen, and there might be an argument for increasing resources to these areas, but that doesn't make a really good vein popping headline.

*UPDATE* *EXTRA FISHINESS* I've had a closer look at the figures from the Mail and the ones from the Express. Lucky me.

The weird thing is, the Express claims that foreign arrests count for 15% of all arrests in London. Comparing the earlier Mail figures (roughly 45,000 in a year) with total number of crimes in the Met area for 2007 (876,298) shows only 9% of crimes were connected with foreign nationals.

This suggests either that a lower percentage of migrants are actually charged after they've been arrested than everyone else, there's been a big drop in the number of migrants charged with crimes or the Express is farting around even more with figures than I first thought.

Whatever is happening, these numbers sure do smell fishy.

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