Immigration policy and the role of political discourses in the relationship between foreign nationals and crime in England and wales
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Significant criminological attention has been given to the relationship between immigration and crime. However, this relationship has not been researched in the UK to any great extent, and consequently the information on the UK context is limited. This research investigates how the criminality of foreign nationals have been constructed by examining the nature of immigration policy, foreign criminality discourses, and the media in the UK to understand how crime in particular has been used to define, refine, and inform control of immigrants. This study refers to the legislative, policy, and political factors that underpin this process, and particularly explains how immigration policy and political debates have emphasised the criminality of foreign nationals in the UK. In order to achieve these goals, this research reviews a brief history of British immigration policy and legislation and outlines the connections made between foreign nationals and non-immigration criminal offences. In addition, secondary data from different British institutions and data collected via the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been used to illustrate the level of foreigners’ criminality as well as the type of crimes compared to the British representation. Finally, Parliamentary debates and related political discourses have been used to examine the role of politics has in reinforcing the relationship between foreign nationals and crime and elevating negative public sentiment and the relationship with media reports. This research highlights the limitations of existing data relating to the criminality of foreign nationals in offending records in England and Wales, partly due to the disorganised recording of offender nationality. This study reveals that nationality is the new racism; whilst immigration has become a central focus in political and public discourses on crime they as a group in statistical terms exhibit low levels of offending but are more likely to be imprisoned for less serious crimes. The relationship between foreign nationals and crimes is thus a political issue rather than a legal one. As such, foreign nationals supposed criminality has been used to control immigration, avoid the blame of failing policies, gain electoral votes, and facilitate changes in immigration and crime policies.
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