Rod Liddle

I’d rather have a German next door too — and I have the figures to show why

They really are exceptionally law-abiding. But maybe they’re planning something

24 May 2014

9:00 AM

24 May 2014

9:00 AM

Should we be worried about the vast numbers of German-born people living covertly in the United Kingdom? The Office for National Statistics estimates that in 2011 some 297,000 Germans were resident here, the fifth largest non-British-born contingent (after Indians, Poles, Pakistanis and the Irish respectively). What the hell are they all up to? Sitting in smartly furnished homes, biding their time, and waiting, waiting. That’s what I suspect. A report in the Guardian a while back suggested that our German community tended to ‘stay under the radar’, an ability which mercifully eluded them 70 years ago. The paper also reported that while there were a few areas with significant German numbers — Kensington in London, for example, and Richmond in North Yorkshire — mostly they had simply assimilated with the locals, like terrifyingly serene blond-haired aliens from a John Wyndham novel. When the time comes and the signal is given, they will advance like automatons upon their British neighbours and set about them with an implacable violence, their eyes flashing weirdly.

In point of fact, I think the phrase ‘stay under the radar’ really implied that they were not likely to stab you at a cash machine and make off with your wallet. As immigrants go, the Germans are about as good as it is possible to get; economically productive, favouring small families, unlikely to commit crime and more than happy to integrate.

According to a hugely sententious man called James O’Brien, a presenter for the radio station LBC, merely to say this is to paint oneself as a racist. O’Brien had been interviewing the Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who had made the point that most British people would probably prefer to have a family of Germans move in next door than a family of Romanians. ‘You know the difference,’ Farage chided the presenter, who was so swaddled in his purblind political correctness that he actually — au contraire, Mr Farage — knew nothing at all, apart from his own utterly misguided certainties. Although this exchange produced a small media firestorm, a partial apology from Farage and Ridiculous Ed Miliband insisting that the Ukip leader had made a ‘racial slur’ — the public, I suspect, really did know the difference. And they would have been right.


A Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan Police has revealed just how correct this horrible racist prejudice actually is. The request was for the number of arrests of foreign nationals in London over the period 2008–2012. Having read the data, I now wish to live next door to a Sammarinese, as only one suspected crime was committed by immigrants from San Marino across those four years. But then it may be that there is only one Sammarinese living in London, and he’s a wrong ’un.

On the crucial issue — world cup qualifier, Germany vs Romania — the outcome is very clear. There were a total of 2,437 arrests of people from Germany across those four years. The number for Romanians was 27,725. This latter figure included 1,370 suspected burglaries and 142 alleged rapes, by the way, just to flesh the stats out with a bit of detail.

So now you really do ‘know the difference’. And according to the UK census of 2011, there are more German nationals living in London than there are Romanians: 44,976 as against 42,151. So your new next-door neighbour is much, much, much more likely to be criminally inclined if he is Romanian than if he is German.

There are caveats, of course. I suppose it might be that it was just one Romanian man, an incredibly active chap, arrested 27,725 times. Or it may be that the police hate Romanians and are more likely to arrest them than they are Germans. But still, the figures would seem to suggest to any normal, functioning human being — not James O’Brien, maybe, but to most of the rest of us — that the Romanians punch hugely above their weight in the old crime stats. They out-crim even the Jamaicans and the Somalians, which is an incredible achievement, really.

There is another caveat — one which will get us into even deeper water and my editor will probably need to order another cake to feed to the protestors outside his front door. Whenever the alleged criminal proclivities of Romanians are reported in the press, there always follow several anguished and extremely articulate mews of complaint from UK-domiciled lawyers, doctors, lecturers and so on of Romanian descent. ‘But you don’t understand, these people in the crime figures, the ones waiting balefully by your ATMs, are not Romanian at all!’ they explain. ‘They are Gypsies, the Roma. They are not us.’ It is more than my job’s worth to take their word on this matter. Sadly, the Met Police did not distinguish between ethnic Romanians and ethnic Roma; if they were born in Romania, that’s good enough for the Old Bill. So it would be unwise to speculate any further, wouldn’t it?

Still, I suspect that this explanation, the presentation of the facts, is superfluous. For the likes of James O’Brien, it’s still raaaacissst, and for the rest of us, we could have guessed as much anyway.

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Show comments
  • Crime follows poverty around like a shadow. When you’re poor it’s hard, sometimes, not to do something that brings you to the attention of the police. When you’re wealthy your crime might be, proportionally, more expensive to society, if you do feel the need to commit one whilst also being less likely to see you arrested. It would be interesting to see the economic costs of those crimes. I’m pretty sure that a dodgy trader in a financial bank is worth many thousands of petty shoplifting Romanians in terms of the cost of their crime, but the ratio of arrests will be dramatically different.

    So on an individual level, yes, you want somebody relatively wealthy (which is a far bigger indicator of petty crime than country of origin – check out how many Polish pharmacists have been arrested since they started coming over) but on a societal level it might not make that much difference whether somebody is from Romania or Germany. Hard to tell, of course, without doing some detailed analysis of a lot of data, but I bet a lot of people have opinions on the subject.

    • LucieCabrol

      your point….

    • Deiscirt

      Chicken. Egg.

      • Oh totally. But I’m fortunate in that I’ve been both poor and (relatively) wealthy.

        And when I was poor I found myself with more run ins with the police. Little things – initially I ran around on an old moped. Nasty thing, but OK, and I looked after it. It was cheaper than the bus and it gave me opportunities otherwise not available to me. But it was tatty, and I got stopped roughly four times a year as a consequence. A few times my bags got searched. Being a good boy, not a problem.

        Now imagine if I’d had just a little weed? Immediate arrest and off to the police station, and I’d become a statistic. However, since around 1997 I’ve been OK for money. So I’ve either had nice motorbikes, or nice enough cars. Nothing fancy though. And do I get stopped by the police and have all the contents of my bags turfed out at every opportunity? Nope.

        So someone a little naughty or experimental who’s poor is going to be picked up a lot more than someone who’s middle class and shows it. All people I know have experienced this. I pootle around in a Honda Civic these days and I might as well be invisible because I guess nobody in a middle aged Honda Civic ever committed a crime. Or something.

    • StephanieJCW

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      It’s the same when people mock liberals for moving from ‘diverse neighbourhoods’. Most decent people I know don’t care about their neighbours ethnicity/national origin. But wealth and education are key – typically wealthier neighbourhoods with better educated residents tend to have lower crime rates.

    • jon

      “When you’re wealthy your crime…”

      A bit distorted – always we talk of the city banker a tiny proportion of the population and a tiny proportion salary wise of the GDP or any other measure of national wealth.

      There are an awful lot of moderately and very wealthy people who are not bankers and would not have a clue how to make money from crime. They are very well paid to do what they do and that is the easiest way to make money.

      Many wealthy people commit no more of a crime than tax loop hole exploitation and that frankly is the fault of those who create the tax laws in the first place.

      Examination of crime at both extremes in this oft cited comparison just seem to end up suggesting that crime is everywhere its just that the chances of being hauled up are dependent on where you lie on the social scale.

      A great many people make a lot of money with no criminal activity of any note! A great many very rich people are as straight as a die.

  • Rasvan Lalu

    The text is misleading, trying a diversion. The uproar of indignation against Farage wasn’t triggered by that „You know the difference“ of him when asked about the difference between German and Romanian neighbours, though it also received some attention from the media.

    The unprecedented criticism Farage encountered from the public at large, media and politicians has adressed the scandalous stigmatization of Romanians as Romanians, per se, as Farage has put it on the media:
    – a culture of criminality among Romanians is „bound to be“
    – „Well, of course, British people should be wary of Romanian families moving into their street“
    – „any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door.“

    Diverting the attention from these abject infamies to contrasting Germans and Romanians in terms of UK criminality, this text presents a „strawman argument“: creating the illusion of
    having refuted a proposition by covertly replacing it with a different proposition and then refuting that false argument instead of the original proposition.

    Nobody denies that German immigrants in the UK are less criminal than Romanian immigrants. Just, this isn’t the point of debating. The core of the scandal is the smear campaign led by Farage against Romanians as a whole community and nation. This point is carefully avoided by the text presented and repalced by the little trick with the good Germans.

    As for the statistical „demonstration“, it’s but a mess: the arrests data are delevered by the Metropolitan Police, yet, they are for the entire UK, not only for London; subsequently, the foreign population number are wrong/poorly researched – for inst. there are some 200 000 Romanians in the UK.

    Since the text is just a propaganda piece, it royally doesn’t care about really explaining things. Otherwise it would have bothered to understand that the German community in Britain is at some 66% made of British naturalised Germans, while the correspondent percentage in Romanians is of some 15%. All over the world, naturalised nationals are better integrated into the host society than recent immigrants or guest workers.This could explain some structural differences, but hey, not this was the aim of the piece.

    The most abhorrent in this text is inferring colective behavioral and characterial traits of whole communities and nations from police arrests statistics. Any be it just half civilised and reasonable person would understand how primitive and idiotic this approach is. Romania is very frequently visited by British pedophiles, yet nobody in our media or politics draw conclusions like „Britons are pedophile“ nor speak they about a „culture of child abuse“ in Britain.

    • LucieCabrol

      You have hit the nail on the head my friend…Labour’s catastrophic betrayal of the working class stems from the fact that they funnelled such a huge number of immigrants in over their reign that they could not, and cannot so far, be integrated..bad for the immigrants , very bad for the country. They put their own, perceived interests ahead of the country, and their ‘client market’.
      Essentially a crime.

    • Dacus

      Rasvan Lalu, congratulation for the objective analysis.
      One thing needs to be added. The comparison between Romanians and German is problematic because it compares two nationalities with different sets of working rights. German had full working and living rights in the UK while Romanians did not have until 2014. The British discriminatory working environment has attracted those Romanians who did not need these rights, namely criminals, beggars, prostitutes and other lawless people. Skilled people remained home or went elsewhere. The unfair system imposed tp Romanian (and Bulgarian) nationals created a negative selection in terms of the Romanian population coming to the UK, it allowed criminals but barred decent and qualified people. That is why all criminal statistics regarding Romanians before 2014 are meaningless, it is simply absurd to compare two people, one with working full rights and one with very few rights in terms of criminality.

      • Rasvan Lalu

        “The British discriminatory working environment has attracted those
        Romanians who did not need these (working) rights ….. Skilled people remained home or
        went elsewhere. The unfair system imposed to Romanian nationals created a negative selection in terms of people coming to the
        UK; it allowed criminals but barred decent and qualified people. That is
        why all criminal statistics regarding Romanians before 2014 are wrong;
        is simply absurd to compare two people living in very different legal
        circumstances, one with working full rights and one with very few rights
        in terms of work. ”
        This.
        But hey, who cares !?
        At stake is the anti-European agenda: Romanians are just collateral damage which nobody cares – a professional propagandist at least.

        • patrickirish

          You make the false assumption that poverty equates with criminality. Incorrect. The poorest part of the USA, Appalachia has had one of the lowest crime rates. Criminality, in the West, is simply a choice.

          • jon

            There does seem to be more of a case for linking poverty with crime when the poverty is slap bang up against wealth, hence jealousy but also opportunity.

            The criminal element who still have some form of conscience find it easier to steal from those whom they percieve as being richer than them, they can afford it. Stealing from the rich is not only more productive it is easier to justify.

            If your neighbour is as poor as you then there is less motivation to steal from him. In smaller poor rural communities the mere shame of being hauled up before your community is likely to be a deterrent.

            Beyond a critical standard of living, wealth is often perceived in relative terms, not an absolute hence the quaint anecdotes from folks who “didnt realise we were actually poor before we met the folks from….”

            People in certain poor rural communities may have access to other types of resource. Folks in the Appalachia had space and the ability to build their own houses – a singular but comparitive luxury that a young couple trying to get on the housing ladder in London might find ironic. There is also a difference between those who can utilise space for smallholdings and those in in urban areas who have to rely on the supermarket to eat.

            You cannot measure the circumstances of living by simple yardsticks.

          • Bill_der_Berg

            For all that, I have read that poor families are the ones who suffer most from crime (all crime, not only theft).

          • jon

            Lets not forget that the original inhabitants of Appalachia had been there for many thousands of years before the arrival of the European settlers an appreciable number from the North of the UK. Just in case anyone gets the idea that its always white people being challenged by large scale immigration.

          • patrickirish

            Actually Appalachia had been predominantly white, as it is slowly becoming less white it is slowly becoming more criminal.

        • Bill_der_Berg

          Then again, the people of Greece, Spain and Portugal are just collateral damage caused by the ‘European Project’. They rarely get a mention by the pro-EU crowd.

      • Damon

        “The unfair system imposed to Romanian (and Bulgarian) nationals created a
        negative selection in terms of people coming to the UK; it allowed
        criminals but barred decent and qualified people.”
        Yes, good point.

  • davidshort10

    Rod Liddle’s column is the first thing I read in the online Spectator – I gave up subscribing after 25 years when they put Andrew Neill in charge but I can read it on Kindle for only three quid a month – but this disappoints. It is the Roma from Romania who came to Britain by and large and even though RL’s column is meant to be funny, detail matters here. Roma and Romanian are easily confused. Non-Roma Romanians tend to move to Spain or Italy. Others, when they have the luck or opportunity, move further abroad, such as to Canada. I don’t know Romania as well as I did about 15 years ago, but I can still understand why young people want to leave.

    • bionde

      Unfortunately Italy has a large number of Roma as well.
      Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the Macedonians and the Roma as they both tend to be unwashed and have large families. The Macedonians however, judging by my local paper crime reports, specialise more in burglaly and violent crimes and the Roma more in begging, muggings and pickpocketing.

  • davidshort10

    Rod Liddle’s column is the first thing I read in the online Spectator – I gave up subscribing after 25 years when they put Andrew Neill in charge but I can read it on Kindle for only three quid a month – but this disappoints. It is the Roma from Romania who came to Britain by and large and even though RL’s column is meant to be funny, detail matters here. Roma and Romanian are easily confused. Non-Roma Romanians tend to move to Spain or Italy. Others, when they have the luck or opportunity, move further abroad, such as to Canada. I don’t know Romania as well as I did about 15 years ago, but I can still understand why young people want to leave.

  • Andrew Constantine

    I think you will find that the massed ranks of Germans are in the Richmond in Surrey rather than in Yorkshire.

    • Neohedonist

      Agreed not least as there is a German school in Ham

  • StephanieJCW

    I don’t really care about the national origin of my neighbours – I am certainly not going to make a basis on someone’s suitability as a neighbour based on the fact they share a nationality with some people who maybe criminals.

    Besides if I know them well enough to know their national origin – I would know probably know a little bit more about them (such as occupation, name, age, general chit-chat) to make a more informed comment.

    I am guessing know that ‘collective responsibility’ and stereotyping whole groups of people is ok…depending on the group (Romanians/Muslims – yes / Jews/Homosexuals – no)?

  • Johnny Darke

    Keep doing what you do, Rod. I love it.

  • cromwell

    “They really are exceptionally law-abiding. But maybe they’re planning something”
    “Maybe they are planning something” Like what, invade Poland? Gas Jews

    • Reg Bungaloyd

      I fear the only time you’ll ever understand irony, Cromwell, is when you’re waiting at a bus stop.

  • andiv

    I think the focus is wrong. Don’t blame immigrants – blame the weak, unadjusted justice system and political correctness (that is why there is no information about Roma vs Romanians) that should be dealing harsh and swiftly with ALL criminals.

  • Rush_is_Right

    ” ‘But you don’t understand, these people in the crime figures… are not Romanian at all!’ they explain. ‘They are Gypsies, the Roma. They are not us.’ ”

    To anybody who has ever visited Romania (as I have on many occasions) the above quotation will come as no surprise at all. I can vouch for its accuracy.

  • martin

    I think that Germans are very intelligent and there are enough houses in places like east london for romanians

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