Home Secretary hits back at 'scaremongering' over UK work permit changes

07 Oct 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Home Secretary Theresa May has dismissed concerns that London will face a crime wave when UK work permit restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians are lifted in the New Year.

Mrs May told Andrew Marr’s BBC TV show that around a third of the capital’s population is made up of foreign nationals and around a third of crime in London is committed by foreign nationals. She said those sparking fears of a wave of crime when restrictions are removed are scaremongering, following repeated claims by UKIP leader Nigel Farage about potential problems.

The Home Secretary’s remarks echo those made by the head of Europol, who said there would be no significant risk posed by Romanian gangs when the new work permit regulations go live in the UK in January 2014.

Mrs May confirmed that a pilot project running in London between police and immigration officials is now set to be rolled out nationwide. The scheme uses immigration officers based in police stations to identify and process any foreign nationals who are arrested. They check for previous convictions, whether the person is wanted abroad and whether they are in the UK legally. Those with overseas criminal records or who are in the UK illegally face deportation. An estimated 1,000 foreign nationals have been deported as a result of the London project.

The expansion of the scheme is set to be included a new immigration Bill due to be published this week. The Bill will also restrict access to housing, health services and other benefits for people who do not have the correct UK visas or who are in the UK for a short period. Non-EU students studying in the UK could, for example, face a levy before they are able to access NHS services.