Latest statistics published in the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail show that Poles living here are overwhelmingly law abiding in comparison to the average resident of England and Wales.
Latest estimates of the number of Poles in England and Wales by the Polish Consulate are around 700,000. In 2010 the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) recorded that 6777 convictions in England and Wales concerned Polish citizens. On the face of it this is still a high number, but in view of the total estimate of Poles in this country, it does show that less than 1% of Poles in this country have been convicted of committing a crime in England and Wales. Or, put another way, less than one Pole in every hundred has been convicted of a crime. Considering that most of the Poles here are young and live in a land with unfamiliar customs to which many have not yet fully adjusted, this is indeed a relatively low figure.
By comparison the Home Office Statistical Bulletin, published in January 2011, stated that the total number of recorded crimes in England and Wales between October 2009 and September 2010 stands at 4,223,362. This covers roughly the same time period as the above crime statistics for Poles. The last recorded population of England and Wales stands at 52,042,000 (2001 Census) though it is probably somewhat higher now. That is equivalent to more than 7 crimes having been recorded for every 100 residents of England and Wales, i.e. one crime for every 14 persons in the country. Obviously many of the above offences would have been carried out by repeat offenders, but it would not be unfair to estimate that some 4% of the indigenous population may have committed a crime.
These statistics also mean that less than 00.15% (less than one sixth of 1 per cent) of crimes in this country were committed by Polish citizens. Still high, but the statistics for law abiding Polish residents in the UK looks more positive by comparison with the entire population of England and Wales.
Obviously the ACPO is right to point out that crime committed by ethnic minorites, and in particular by minorities who have not lived in the UK for long and are not likely to speak English fluently, does cause a greater use of police resources than crimes committed by the indigenous population. It requires more complex work with the community in question and involves an increased use of interpreters. Obviously this is highly regrettable.
Many of us Poles do feel angry that even this small percentage of Polish citizens abuses English and Welsh hospitality by committing crimes in this country. We agree that recent job losses and the credit squeeze, which had hit Polish communities particularly strongly, are not an adequate excuse for committing such offences here. Nevertheless we feel it is unfair that British newspapers seem to be highlighting statistics in such a way that is likely to inflame resentment against law abiding Poles and other nationalities living, working and paying taxes in this country.
I believe that the Federation of Poles in Great Britain (for whom I used to be the press officer some years ago) should make these facts more widely available and challenge the presentation of these statistics by an alarmist British media.