UK Police tell Romanians not to come to Britain without jobs
British police tell Romanians ‘don’t come without jobs’
London police are travelling to Romania to warn potential migrant workers they risk being exploited
By Ben Farmer6:00AM GMT 16 Dec 2013
British police are travelling to rural Romania to persuade poor residents not to head to the UK without work when job restrictions are relaxed next month.
The Scotland Yard mission to Transylvania has been telling potential migrant workers that they risk being exploited by gangs or having to turn to crime if the arrive in the UK without a job.
The mission comes amid concerns of an influx from Romania and Bulgaria next month after the countries’ citizens gain unrestricted rights to work in the UK.
Ministers are also worried about the impact on Britain’s benefits system, schools and NHS if large numbers head to the UK.
Police from North London have travelled to an area where many residents have already left for London and been found living homeless in camps.
Ch Supt Adrian Usher told the BBC’s Panorama programme his team would advise locals not to travel to the UK unless they could support themselves.
He said: “What I’m saying is that we know that if you come to the UK without a named job to go to, then you’re at really increased risk of being exploited or being the victim or perpetrator of crime.
“We’re here to protect all the residents of London and that includes those people who come to London looking for work.”
Police figures show Romanians last year accounted for nearly half of all arrests for begging in London and for a third of arrests for picking pockets.
Police from London have been dispersing camps of Roma ahead of the January 1 relaxation in working restrictions.
At one camp at the derelict Hendon football club, 65 of the 68 residents came from the same remote rural area of Apata in the Carpathian Mountains.
Mark Harper, immigration minister, told the programme: “We’ve removed some of those people before and one of the weaknesses at the moment is that they can come back and we can’t stop them.
“And one of the changes that I have signed into law, which will come into effect from the start of the year is that we will actually be able to stop them coming back, if they are coming back here to sleep rough or beg.”
The campaign group Migration Watch UK has estimated around 50,000 people from the two countries could head to the UK every year until 2019.
Romania’s ambassador to London, Ion Jinga, has estimated the number will be far lower and blamed the media and politicians for scaremongering.
He has said his countrymen risk being demonised and the great majoirty are hardworking and have no interest in claiming benefits or committing crime.
Mr Jinga said: “We are totally against any type of crime committed by Romanians we have a zero tolerance on any type of crime but we have to keep the balance, realize that Romania has one of the lowest rates of crime in Europe.”
The Government has not released its own forecases for the influx, for fear of repeating the embarrassment of the last Labour Government which predicted that 13,000 would move to Britain from Poland and other eastern European countries after 2004.
More than one million arrived in one of the biggest waves of immigration seen in this country.
Average salaries in Romania are three times lower than in the UK and in Bulgaria they are four times as low.