Clare Griffiths, Lecturer in Criminology, explores public attitudes towards immigration in a new article in Criminal Justice Matters
According to a recent article entitled 'Immigration is British society’s biggest problem' (Boffey, 2013) nearly a third of the British public who took part in a survey perceive immigration to be one of the greatest causes of social division. Segregation and the ‘parallel lives’ that diverse cultures lead have been high on the political agenda ever since the 2001 Northern riots in the towns of Oldham, Bradford and Burnley. Government policies have attempted to promote community cohesion and integration in diverse neighbourhoods. The topic of immigration and its imagined ‘threat’ to ‘British’ values and to ‘British’ communities has arisen again recently with both the Romanian and Bulgarian migration flows, and the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby; both of which have sparked a hostile response in negative media portrayals of immigrants or in protests against immigration involving the far right. This paper, however, attempts to paint a less gloomy and more complex picture of public attitudes towards immigration and its assumed association with crime and insecurity by showing how polite and civil social exchange can exist at the local level of social life.