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Staffordshire Police asked to record if foreign nationals are involved in offences

A call has been made for Staffordshire Police to record if foreign nationals are involved in offences.

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Staffordshire PFCC Ben Adams

Michael Riley made the request at the latest Police, Fire and Crime Panel meeting in Stafford – and said there were “real fears” relating to the recent Planning Inspectorate decision to allow former university halls of residence in the town to be used as temporary accommodation for asylum seekers.

Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Ben Adams, said on Tuesday that police incidents involving migrants in the county had been “extremely limited” however.

At a previous panel meeting in July he said: “The worries for the service are around organisations trying to make more of it than is the reality and social media isn’t helping.

“People have genuine concerns and they need informed genuine information. Genuine information is that criminality is exceptionally low and the risk is exceptionally low – and a lot of what they read, quite frankly, is nonsense.”

Michael Riley’s question to the panel asked for details of what percentage of offences had been committed “by our own and foreign nationals” between October 2020 and September 2023, and a breakdown of offence types, including minor ones.

A written reply to his question stated: “These operational statistics would be better serviced through an FOI (Freedom of Information) request to Staffordshire Police.

“However, although not matching the exact time frames as requested by Mr Riley, there is validated annual data made publicly available, which can be sourced from ONS (Office for National Statistics) Crime Statistics. Police are only required to record offender ethnicity, this information does not therefore answer Mr Riley in terms of nationality of offenders.”

Mr Riley, speaking at Tuesday’s Police, Fire and Crime Panel, said: “The question itself is specific to the Commissioner, because the ONS data is generalised and the questions I was asking were specific to that office.

"I believe it’s on them to get that information out there so the public can see it as part of transparency, rather than me as a single person going to them with an FOI and requesting that information.

“In terms of foreign nationals, we’ve got over 11,000 foreign nationals held in England and Wales and the response from the commissioner indicated Staffordshire Police are only required to record offender ethnicity.

"Would his office direct the Chief Constable to collect data on foreign nationals, bearing in mind the problems Staffordshire has in terms of county lines drugs and other serious offending that may be happening in our county?

“I’m sure the general public would welcome this information if it was available. We could see the impact it has on our local communities because of real fears that relate to the recent appeal by Serco on the Stafford Court complex and other localities in the county itself.”

Mr Adams replied: “I take your point that (FOI) information goes to you, not the public domain. That’s one of the reasons I have my public performance meetings with the Chief Constable that I put in the public domain, going beyond the details of the ONS, and quite often we spend time during those meetings discussing the nuances around some of that information.

“It’s all available on the website and you’re welcome like everyone else to watch or sit in on those. If there’s particular areas of data you don’t feel you’re getting, or you don’t feel the public are seeing, I’m very happy to consider putting them into the public domain as well.

“On foreign nationals, I won’t and don’t direct the Chief Constable. The Chief Constable’s got operational independence and quite right too.

“I could consider that in a conversation, but essentially what you’re asking for there is something to be recorded that is not an obligation on the police service at the moment. That would be a question better posed to our MPs, because they’re in a position to influence legislation and influence the Home Secretary on what is being recorded."

He added: "On the wider point you might be seeking to make, at the moment there a number of locations with migrants in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent – more than our equal share actually. But in terms of incidents with the police they have been extremely limited – whilst that is being monitored, it’s not an area of additional pressure or challenge for the service at the moment.”

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