Immigration to the UK from Central and Eastern Europe remains a topic of contention in both political and media discourse. The debate as to whether mass immigration threatens order and security has been particularly prominent in the UK press again recently with the European elections. In a recent article in The Guardian, Nigel Farage has been quoted as saying there is a direct association between Romanian immigrants and criminality. This is not a new topic though and the association of immigration with crime has a long history in not only popular discourse but also in academic literature. Sociologists and Criminologists at the University of Chicago long ago stated for example that immigration fractures effective community controls, resulting in increased crime, conflict and social disorder. Adopting the Chicago School approach, Dr Clare Griffiths carried out a research project to explore how groups in an English town respond to mass immigration from Poland and how this impacts on communities' capabilities to get together and collectively control crime and disorder.
Building on a previous publication, 'Living with Aliens' in Criminal Justice Matters, Dr Griffiths has recently published an article entitled 'Group Conflict and ‘Confined’ and ‘Collaborative’ Collective Efficacy: The Importance of a Normative Core between Immigrants and Natives in an English Town' in the Polish Sociological Review. Contrary to previous research, she shows how neighbourhoods experiencing immigration can in fact live in a conflict-free and civilised environment. Rather than placing so much emphasis on the need for new migrants to integrate and adapt to the host community, the article shows the importance of encouraging local residents to reach out and engage with newcomers. It is not necessary for groups to display dense or strong social networks with each other. What is more important is encouraging positive perceptions of local institutions who are responsible for social control (such as the local police) and encouraging the recognition of a normative consensus between diverse groups. It is these factors that can encourage collaboration in crime control activities and reduce experiences of inter-group conflict in communities experiencing immigration.
Please get in touch with Clare if you would like to know more about this publication.