One of the underlying causes of the UK voting to leave the European Union (EU) in June 2016 was a concern over uncontrolled immigration into the country. As part of the EU, Britain has been forced to accept millions of immigrants from Eastern Europe over the past 15 years.
Though these concerns are often explained away as blatant racism, in reality they are motivated by an understanding of the relationship between immigration and other social ills, such as violent crime.
This month’s news that violent crime is rising by 13% a year in the UK gives fresh impetus to these concerns. Though the establishment – and the Police Force in particular – seek to hide the link between violent crime and immigration, the recent actions of the UK Police suggest that they are more aware of it than they are willing to admit.
The latest attempt to reduce violent crime in the UK has been a nationwide gun amnesty. Following a 27% rise in gun crime last year, police departments throughout the country asked citizens to give in their guns, with no questions asked.
The UK has some of the strictest gun controls in the Western world, but initiatives like this suggest that there are still a lot of guns in the country. A similar amnesty in 2015 collected over 6,000 weapons.
The types of weapons handed in also surprised many people in the UK. Handguns have been banned in the country since the Dunblane massacre, a 1996 mass shooting that remains the deadliest in UK history. Yet alongside ancient shotguns and hunting rifles, many police forces collected off-the-shelf .357 Magnums and common 1911-pattern pistols.
The amnesty was enormously successful for a number of reasons. Police Departments in the UK are not known for their innovation, but they made extensive use of new media techniques in order to promote the initiative. Notably, this was one of the first instances in which the police used online advertising to promote a campaign: it seems they have finally caught on to the idea that internet advertising is now more effective than TV ads.
All in all, the amnesty is to be applauded: any initiative that seeks to reduce violent crime is welcome. Yet it is also clear that merely removing guns from circulation is not going to do much to reduce violent crime. Instead, the underlying causes – among them immigration – need to be addressed.
The Real Cause
To see this clearly, just have a look at Switzerland. That country has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the world, but also one of the lowest rates of violent crime. It is not a coincidence that it also has one of the lowest immigration rates in the world.
It is no surprise, therefore, that the recent gun amnesty was focused on areas with high immigration, such as London, and also collected the most firearms in those areas. There is growing evidence that increased immigration leads to increased crime, and the police must be aware of this, even if they are not allowed to admit it.
As The Telegraph reports, “The pattern of immigration is part of a cocktail of factors that has led to the increase in the murder figures,” said David Wilson, professor of criminology at Birmingham City University. They go on to quote a murder squad detective, who declined to be named: “We have anecdotal evidence that we’re seeing growing numbers of murders involving migrants, particularly eastern European men. Large numbers of men in this group come here to work … and tend to live in house shares where they do a lot of drinking.”
Collecting data on the number of violent crimes committed by immigrants in the UK is made difficult by the perverse attitude of the police force itself. Even where it does collect information on the residency history of criminals, this is not made public. The fear of being seen as racist, it seems, means that the police force has a blind spot: rather than risk being accused of racism, the police would rather avoid the issue altogether.
Nonetheless, some analyses make the link between immigration and crime clear. In a recent economic analysis, a 1% increase in the asylum seeker share of the local population was associated with a 1.1% rise in property crime. Evidence from Sweden suggests that violent crime has spiked following the implementation of a more liberal asylum policy.
Yet their actions speak louder than words. By focusing their gun amnesty on areas of high immigration, it is clear that the police are aware of the link between the two, even if they do not publicly admit it.