Monday, September 1, 2008

Tony McNulty: 'blindingly obvious' that crime and extremism could rise in recession

The Times 1 September 2008

Siobhan Kennedy and Nico Hines

Ministers today said it was "blindingly obvious" that violent crime, burglaries and far-right extremism could rise in Britain as the effects of the economic downturn took their toll.
Tony McNulty, the Home Office Minister, said that the contents of a leaked document by Jacqui Smith [Home Secretary], containing the warnings about ramifications of such a slowdown, showed that the economic decline would have a profound social and criminal impact.
The leaked document, not cleared for release by the Home Secretary, sets out a series of warnings. She writes that Britain also faces a “significant increase” in alcohol and tobacco smuggling, hostility towards migrants and even a potential rise in the number of people joining terrorist groups.
He added: “This really is a statement of the blindingly obvious - people would be astonished if the Home Office weren’t looking at how the relationship between crime and the criminal justice system and the economy interact and relate with each other. . . What the letter also says, albeit a draft, is that we are better placed now than we were with equivalent problems in the ’70s and ’90s to tackle them.”
Ms Smith's briefing note tells Gordon Brown that violent crime is set to grow at a rate of 19 per cent while theft and burglaries could rise by up to 7 per cent this year and 2 per cent in 2009.
The report reveals that the Home Office has allocated £300 million for security for the 2012 Olympics and that there could also be a rise in people turning to extremist groups and racism because of “a real or perceived sense of disadvantage held by individuals. . . Grievances based on experiencing racism is one of the factors that can lead to people becoming terrorists." The report highlights Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities as those most vulnerable to such effects because of low employment rates and having the highest percentage of children living in households with income 60 per cent below the average.
A tightening in the economy is also expected to bring a significant rise in fuel, alcohol and tobacco smuggling and illegal-working migrant numbers could swell as job opportunities fall.

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