It is common to equate high levels of immigration with increases in the crime rate because there are increases in the crime rate according to every statistic, but the opposite can be true, according to University of Huddersfield criminology lecturer Dr. Dainis Ignatans, who carried out statistical analysis of UK communities.
His latest article, in the International Review of Victimology, analyzes the changed distribution of crime by offenze type and is based on data extracted from a total of almost 600,000 respondents to the Crime Survey for England and Wales between 1982 and 2012.
What do police not think is worth very much? Asking people on surveys about crime, especially when actual crime is different than what people claim on surveys.
“My research shows that areas with very high concentrations of immigrant populations tend to have much lower police recorded crime rates than areas with low or medium concentrations of immigrants,” Ignatans said.
Confounder: People in high immigration areas tend to be insular and won't call the police.
The data from The British Crime Survey was presented by Ignatans at conferences in the UK and overseas. “I have been looking at patterns across England and Wales which demonstrate that regions which have very strong clustering of immigrant populations consistently have much lower recorded crime rates – regardless of the crime type,” he said, and added that the reductions took place both within and outside the immigrant populations. “There is no specific point at which the good effect kicks in. It depends on the distribution of the people.”
Explanations for the crime drop could include the fact that concentrated immigrant communities have felt a sense of home and belonging and the positive features of their culture have led to communal improvement.
Integration and assimilation
Ignatans argues for an important distinction between the concepts of “integration” and “assimilation”. Immigrants can integrate successfully with the wider community even if they do not assimilate culturally, he contends. “If we permit immigrants to demonstrate the best of their culture, we can all benefit from it and districts with high levels of migrants will improve greatly over time. “But if we create lots of districts where those cultures are oppressed or where cultures are forcibly mixed – such as council estates where people from all backgrounds are put together – then those areas are very high in crime and tend not to do particularly well.”