Fraser Nelson

Are Brits more likely to riot?

Are Brits more likely to riot?
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One of the reasons I wanted an inquiry into the riots was to try to avoid headlines like today's. Information will out — what matters is how it's presented. The Daily Mail's front page today (followed up by its rivals) says that those imprisoned for the riots hail from 44 different countries. The most striking line comes from the story:

"Prison statistics revealed that 14 per cent — about one in seven — of those jailed for burglary, robbery, theft, criminal damage and disorder during the riots were born abroad."

What jumped out at me was the lack of any racial element to the London riots. Britain can make a strange equality boast here: unlike Paris and LA, our riots have no ethnic dimension. Ebony and ivory, looting in perfect harmony. The embarrassing truth is that immigrants actually flatter most British social statistics, and by ignoring this we ignore the real burning problems in our communities (and welfare ghettoes). For example, when it comes to education overall, we ran a piece in our Barometer column recently looking at how the various ethnic groups do:

To deal with a problem, it is first necessary to recognise a problem. And in Britain, it's the working-class home-grown whites that are ignored. Even to mention them as a group is seen as a social no-no. This is not to blame the Daily Mail: do you think the Ministry of Justice mentioned the overall London figure for foreign-born to put this in context? Such figures are not even circulated in Whitehall. The truth is that London is up there with New York as a city of immigrants, and that Victoria coach station has become our unmarked Ellis Island. A snapshot of Londoners doing anything, anywhere, will show (at least) one in seven being born abroad. These basic facts are not known, because the British political class can't bring themselves to discuss the basic facts of immigration — which, in turn, blinds them to the real problems facing the country.

It's easy to worry about foreign criminals. Harder to imagine that we just might have condemned millions of our countrymen to life in crime-ridden welfare ghettoes. This is why an inquiry into the riots, and a proper social background of the rioters, could have given an invaluable insight into the very British social problems that our policymakers still can't bring themselves to face.


P.S. The Daily Mail story talks about those "born abroad", but this may be a misprint. The MoJ figures show 13 per cent were "foreign nationals," which is a separate, smaller category. 21 per cent of Londoners are foreign nationals. This suggests that a Brit in London was still at least 25 per cent more likely to be imprisoned for rioting a than foreign national. Without an inquiry, however, the data will be of such poor quality that we'll have no clear idea of anything.

Hat-tip: Daniel Knowles

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.