Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
TUESDAY 3 JUNE 2008
Q360 Ms Buck: Chief Constable Spence,
what is your assessment of the impact of population change and
mobility on your resources for policing?
Ms Spence: It is immense. I believe
that the Committee visited Peterborough six or seven months ago.
Q361 Chairman: We have not, but I
am sure we will at some stage.
Ms Spence: It was probably somebody
from the cohesion team who visited. In many respects the position
six to nine months ago is not the position today. I have been
doing a lot of research to understand it. There has been a good
deal of press coverage about the Polish community going home.
I wanted to know exactly what the reality was. It is as you say;
there is tremendous churn; we are in an era of super-mobility.
Some males are leaving but families are arriving. The number one
nationality now going through "New Link", which is the
receiver of new arrivals in Peterborough in particular, is Czech-Slovak,
not Polish. We have lots of new nationalities in the communities
that we did not have six to nine months ago: Albanians, Russians
who purport to be Polesthere are some immigration issues
in that regardand now new Arab communities from Morocco
and Egypt. We also see seasonal or weekly commuting where people
have different work patterns. I understand that worker registration
is down nationally by 17% but it has decreased by only a small
amount in Peterborough. We have no idea exactly how many there
are in the black economy.
Q362 Chairman: What is the answer
to Ms Buck's question about resourcing issues?
Ms Spence: There is tremendous
pressure. While officers are dealing with either crimes or victims
they cannot be doing other things. The real resourcing issue is
the fact that one has to translate issues, whether they involve
on-the-ground problems or those in custody where investigations
take two or three times as long. A Police and Criminal Evidence
Act review that an inspector could deal with in 10 minutes could
take 90 minutes in the case of someone for whom English is not
his or her first language. There are basic day-to-day problem-solving
issues. There are also incidents we now investigate that we would
not have investigated in the past, labour and sex trafficking
being examples. There is pressure all round. That is why we have
recruited PCSOs to provide language skills. We got to a point
where we could not do our job properly if we did not have language
Q363 Ms Buck: I think that is a very
fair assessment based on experience elsewhere. Research has been
published recently. In terms of the incidence of criminality by
new communities, is it your experience that that trend is consistent
with the general population or are there different patterns of
Ms Spence: There has been no crime
wave per se. The pattern is similar to that for the rest of the
community except for certain pockets. For example, we have identified
that particularly where alcohol is concerned there is much more
alcohol-fuelled criminality. Forty per cent of our detainees for
drink driving, for example, are migrants particularly from Eastern
Europe. We know there is under-reporting. Talking to hospitals
we know that there is a pattern of assaults in relation to debt
recovery, and in some communities because of their background
and previous experience there is an issue of confidence in the
police and a reluctance to report crime. But in relation to day-to-day
policing and criminality there is a lack of understanding of the
law particularly, motoring offences. We also find that they do
not understand that once they have been disqualified they cannot
drive, so there are frequent arrests of disqualified drivers.
In terms of normal criminality it mirrors the resident population
but it takes twice or three times as long to deal with it.
Sir Simon Milton: In Westminster
there has been a specific issue with pick-pocketing by organised
gangs mainly from Romania. The other specific crimes where we
have noted a difference which can be linked to recent migration
are begging, fraud and pick-pocketing.
Q364 Chairman: Do you agree with
the chief constable that there has been no crime wave per se because
of the patterns of migration?
Sir Simon Milton: Yes, we would.
Nationally, there has been no crime wave but there are instances
of local spikes in certain types of criminal activity, much of
it low level, for example driving offences and so on.
Q365 Gwyn Prosser: Chief Constable,
we have been told that the Home Secretary having received your
report on the impacts of immigration has agreed to consider new
ways of additional transient funding and you are preparing more
information in that respect. What are your views at the moment
about how that can be achieved, measured and be fairer?
Ms Spence: To go back to funding
per se, we have had only a 0.3% increase in the way the formula
operated this year. The Home Secretary announced there would be
a transitional fund. That was already in existence but it was
unclear whether or not the police could apply for it. Therefore,
that is something that emerges from some of the new immigration
policies and funds, for example how people pay for visas or whatever
to enter the country. It is that fund which will be redistributed
but no doubt we will be at the door of that fund with colleagues
from other agencies as well. It is not a new fund just for policing
as became clear after the announcement was made. We wait to see
what the reality on the ground will look like. That will not be
available until 2009 at the earliest.
Q366 Gwyn Prosser: Is there a continuing
dialogue between, for instance, ACPO and the Home Secretary on
the issue of funding the special impacts of immigration?
Ms Spence: The next migrant impact
forum will look particularly at the impact on policing, but again
that forum does not necessarily have any money attached to it.
We have not seen any money coming directly into policing for the
impact of immigration. It is run through the formulas. As Sir
Simon said, when the formulas are run on population where the
data is outdated and does not reflect the reality of what happens
on the streets today it means that areas with net outward migration
get the same amount of money as areas of net inward migration.
Therefore, some are able to deal better with the situations they
face but those with additional pressures suffer because they have
the same amount of money they had prior to that migration.
Q367 Gwyn Prosser: You have no set
view on how the shortfall should be addressed or the formula changed?
Ms Spence: Because the formula
is based on many factors some changes would be advantageous. There
must be some methodology within government to respond to rapid
change. As my colleague said, before 2004 when I went to Cambridgeshire
there was normal migration into and out of the county. It is a
dynamic county with a high-tech industry, so it is used to a churn
of population, but there has been a rapid influx. There is nothing
within government to be able to respond to the rapid changes that
have happened. That was where the problems arose. The funding
formulas are not rapid and flexible enough to deal with change.
Sir Simon Milton: In direct response
to Mr Prosser, the LGA put forward the suggestion that there should
be a contingency fund for which councils experiencing rapid changes
in population could bid and it would take some time for the formula
to catch up with them. We put forward a proposal that that should
be a fund of £250 million which equates to 1% of the total
revenue support grant to councils nationally. Unfortunately, the
government did not think that was a good idea.
Q368 Chairman: Are you still pursuing
Sir Simon Milton: We are, but
what government has said is that rather than establish such a
fund it wants to have a much better understanding about specific
costs and impacts. Quite recently there has been a meeting with
Hazel Blears and a number of hot spot councils on migration. That
was very productive in getting the government to understand some
of the actual pressures. I hope that that dialogue continues.
Q369 Tom Brake: Chief Constable,
you have identified areas where there has been a growth in crime.
For instance, you have highlighted alcohol-fuelled motoring offences.
Would you be able to give us now, or possibly in writing, some
statistics over the past two to three yearsthe period of
peak migrationjust to confirm precisely the numbers?
Ms Spence: We have trawled some
figures and data. The problem that faces the Police Service currently
is that it does not record nationalities. The work we have done
to understand the picture is to trawl through it case by case,
but we have some data which shows particularly drink driving and
the figures for other crimes.
Q370 Tom Brake: It would be useful
if you could provide that to the Committee. Sir Simon mentioned
that migrants were more likely to be victims than perpetrators
of crime. Is that your experience, and do you have any statistics
from your force to support that?
Ms Spence: One way to get a good
identification of the issue is by looking at translation budgets.
Half of that goes to dealing with the custody and justice processes
and half to other community cohesion issues. Of the half that
goes to custody issues, one half goes on offenders and the other
half deals with victims. Therefore, from our perspective there
is as much victimisation as there is offending. Members may well
have heard this morning that in the GLA they are identifying interesting
dynamics in worker exploitation. There is some under-reporting
but some quite serious undertones in relation to work trafficking
and sexual exploitation which are very worrying.
Q371 Tom Brake: Are those the specific
crimes of which you detect migrants are more likely to be victims,
or can you highlight other types of crime?
Ms Spence: If we look at some
of the intelligence, currently we are working with colleagues
in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority
and UKHTC particularly in relation to work trafficking. Underlying
some of that picture are instances of kidnapping, rape, the taking
of passports, assaults and also insidious deductions from pay
for housing administration etc that are probably excessive for
the contributions that the gangmasters make to individuals. The
exploitation tends to be by Eastern Europeans on Eastern Europeans.
There is a mix and it is something that is not as well understood
as it needs to be. Currently, we are working very hard with colleagues
to understand exactly what it looks like.
Sir Simon Milton: Several councils
have given evidence to us about an increased incidence of migrants
being the victims of hate crime.
Ms Spence: If one looks particularly
at the offences which I did not cover, antisocial behaviour is
an issue but it arises in relation to social factors. One has
houses of multiple occupancy and people spill over and relax outside.
With their use of alcohol they make a noise and upset people and
this causes racial abuse. This is a cyclical process which needs
to be nipped in the bud to get people to live and work in harmony.
A good number of the neighbourhood teams spend a lot of time trying
to get people to live in harmony.
Q372 David Davies: Chief Constable
Spence and Sir Simon, I appreciate the way that you have put across
your evidence, but I say with all due respect that in some ways
it appears you may be trying to have your cake and eat it. On
the one hand you say you need more money because of the increase
in crime; on the other you say that immigration is not causing
any increase in crime. For example, how can you say to us that
immigrants are more likely to become the victims than the perpetrators
of crime when, as you have also made clear in your evidence today,
you do not collate the nationality of crime perpetrators? How
can you make that statement? The reality is that we do not know
the number of people who are committing crimes and where they
Ms Spence: I cannot give you accurate
data year on year, but we have done a lot of our own trawling.
I cannot give you the national data, for example, but in Cambridgeshire
we have looked at it because it is so important to understand
it and I can give you data and figures if you want them. Once
people say that the police have an issue in relation to immigration
they automatically think of crime. Policing is more than crime;
it is also about community cohesion. What we have is a work wave,
not crime wave, which covers all aspects of dealing with immigration
into the county. I have an increase in arrests but I also have
an increase in victims.
Q373 David Davies: To be fair, many
of those people are probably victims of crime carried out by others
who have migrated into the area?
Ms Spence: That is true.
Q374 David Davies: It is not really
possible for the Association of Chief Police Officers to say there
is no evidence to support theories of a large crime wave generated
through immigration when at the same time you and many other police
officers say that a lot of people you deal with are foreign and
recent arrivals in this country. Liam Byrne himself has said in
evidence to the Committee that he does not collect national crime
figures based on the nationality of the individual. Therefore,
you cannot say one way or the other; the evidence is not there
to make the statement that immigration is not causing crime.
Ms Spence: I think the evidence
Q375 David Davies: There is no evidence
that it is but there is no evidence that it is not either.
Ms Spence: The issue about whether
or not there is a crime wave is that crime is proportionate to
the amount of people in the country. Just because you come into
the country as an immigrant does not make you more or less likely
to commit crime. The fact that we have a number of new people
in the country means that, like the resident population, a proportion
of them will commit crime. Some of it is because they have criminal
tendencies; some of it is because they do not understand the law
and how we operate within the UK, so there is an education process
to go through. The evidence of this is there and I can give it
to you in spades.
Q376 David Davies: I would like to
see it. You have said there have been spikes in certain crimes
with some nationalities being disproportionately more likely to
commit them. I am married to an Eastern European and I agree with
this. I note that Sir Simon was candid enough to mention Eastern
Europe as being a particular feature in driving. I have also been
told by one ethnic minority police officer that knife crime is
a problem. I am more or less happy to say which of the countries
it is; it is white and Eastern European. One of the other countries
happens to be in Africa and I am less likely to name it because
all of us feel uncomfortable about singling out countries, but
do not all of us have a duty to say there are certain countriesit
is nothing to do with ethnicityin certain continents where
there seems to be a greater problem than in neighbouring countries?
Ms Spence: We have identified
some communities that have a greater propensity to carry knives
because that is what they do at home.
Q377 David Davies: Are you happy
to name any?
Ms Spence: Initially, it was the
Iraqi Kurds who carried knives; we had the Poles and Lithuanians
who carried knives. A lot of the work we have done with them has
been to tell them not to do so and we have noticed that knife
crime has gone down. We have named those countries in the past,
but my officers should not be blind to the fact that anybody in
the community, as we know in relation to London and the UK, will
carry a knife. It is not about picking out people specifically
and saying they will be more or less likely to do this. However,
if it is normal for a person to carry a knife in the country from
which he comes we need to educate him pretty quickly so he does
not carry one here.
Q378 Chairman: Sir Simon, would you
like to comment on that?
Sir Simon Milton: To go back to
the issue of cost raised by Mr Davies, it is very difficult to
establish a figure in relation to individual nationalities or
crime, but we know that because of long-term net inward migration
and the population churn there is somewhere between one and one
and a half million people living in Britain for whom there has
been no public expenditure provision through the normal formulae
because they were not expected. However one cuts it, there are
increased costs to local public services. We cannot give you precise
figures and say so much is for crime and so much is for the impact
on education, but in any area that has experienced this migration
there are pressures on public services which currently we have
no way to address other than by stretching resources more thinly.
Q379 David Davies: I do not disagree
with what you say. Is it the case that many police officers in
London will say that, sadly, a number of the people with whom
they deal are recent arrivals to this country, not necessarily
black or Asian but quite often Eastern European, and certainly
are not indigenously British?
Sir Simon Milton: Certainly, the
police to whom I speak in Westminster will say that as you get
different waves of migration from different parts of the world
very often accompanying that you have a type of crime that might
be characteristic of that group, but we are a country with lots
of people coming and going. You just have to manage these things.