By Keval Dhokia
In a frank interview on BBC’s Newsnight last Monday Victor Ponta, the Romanian Prime Minister, acknowledged that he was: “very aware that Romanian citizens committed crime (in Britain)”.
His comments were echoed by Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, who told the BBC today: “London is currently going through a Romanian crime epidemic … a fact that nobody dares to talk about, but it’s real.”
Indeed, it was revealed in February of this year that an incredible 27,725 Romanians, out of the 87,000 that have come to Britain in the past five years, have been arrested by the Metropolitan police in London (one in three). The staggering figure, gained through a freedom of information request, has raised fears over the criminal consequences of the unquantified influx of Romanians and Bulgarians, when full jobs and benefits access is granted to them in seven months.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone raised these fears by saying today that Romanians should be prevented from coming to the UK because of the high crime rate in that community. According the Huffington Post, Mr Hollobone said: “There is currently a crime wave of bag snatchers and pickpockets on the London underground … eight out of 10 pickpockets on the underground are Romanian.”
Only four weeks ago an Old Bailey judge sentencing 10 members of a Romanian gang to over 80 years in combined jail time, said there were fears an influx of people from Romania and Bulgaria would lead to an increase in crime. He also warned ‘eastern European criminals’ that British courts would not be a “soft touch”. “Anyone who comes to the UK – irrespective of whatever part of the world – wanting to commit serious crime, must clearly understand such abuse of the hospitality of this country and its people must be seriously punished.”
The issue of Romanian immigrant crime in London and its links to the notorious Romanian Mafia was first investigated by the veteran broadcaster Rageh Omaar in his 2007 documentary series ‘Crime Invasion‘, in which he warned: “Ruthless Romanian ganags are defrauding us out of millions of pounds every year. They see Britain as an El Dorado, an easy place to commit cash point crime.”
It seems the Romanian Mafia has created a criminal niche for itself in the UK by paying highly skilled Romanian engineering immigrants lavish sums of money, to build superior card scanning and PIN capturing equipment. These ‘cash-point’ gangs swindle UK banks and account holders to the tune of £7m a month, and it is feared that with no slowdown in technical graduates from Romanian universities, and the scarcity of those kind of jobs in the UK and Romania, the Romanian Mafia will have a surge of new recruits to plague the capital come January 2014.
In partial response to this, the Metropolitan Police has begun Operation Nexus, a dedicated joint-initiative with the UK Borders Agency. The officer in charge, AC Rowley said: “Intelligence shows that 27% of all those people arrested for a criminal offence – 25% of the highest harm gang offenders and 15% of known sex offenders – are foreign nationals. As London becomes an increasingly international city we need to make sure that we are … effective at catching or stopping offenders from abroad.”