Friday, April 18, 2008

Immigrant crime: A good old British "fudge" again

What no policeman or other official can say in Britain is that the big problem is not with Poles but with blacks. And the "British" population now includes large numbers of blacks. So comparing immgrants overall with the "British" population overall is uninformative. On both sides of the ledger you will have a mixed population of blacks and whites. Comparing crime among immigrant blacks with white British crime, however, would reveal a REALLY alarming situation -- which is why no such comparison will be made available

The influx of migrant workers into England and Wales from eastern Europe has not led to the crime wave that some have suggested, a police report says. Since 2004, about 800,000 people have registered for work in Britain from many eastern European countries.

The report by two chief constables has been sent to the home secretary ahead of a meeting with senior officers. It says the influx of migrants has created problems in some areas but overall crime levels have not risen. With the recent expansion of the EU, migrants have entered the UK from such countries as Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, and more recently Romania and Bulgaria.

Last year, Cambridgeshire's chief constable, Julie Spence, sparked controversy by claiming the sudden influx in east European workers had led to community tensions and increases in certain types of crime. Several other forces said they were having similar problems.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) canvassed the views of detectives and community officers across the UK. It found no evidence that crime was more prevalent among East Europeans than other groups. It said the sheer number of migrants in some areas had caused tensions and policing pressures - but the problems were minimal. "Our report is very clear: it has led to an increase in some tensions. "Particularly, say, those areas which have had higher concentrations - you get misunderstandings, you get rumours, you've got big pressure on things like housing. You get rumours that wages are being held down," Mr Fahy said.

"What is different about this wave of immigration is that it's so sudden. "Which has created a different dynamic which has created tensions and people like Julie Spence have pointed out that we have had huge increases in the interpreters budget, but that's not really just about eastern Europeans being offenders, it's also about them being victims and witnesses of crime." He said the nationality of offenders should be recorded to make it easier to monitor crime trends, and called on eastern European states to share criminal intelligence more widely.

Mrs Spence stood by her comments, saying that immigrants were not responsible for a "crime wave" but recent population growth had given police "significant challenges", particularly with non-English speakers, as the force deals with people from 93 cultures, speaking 100 languages. "Looking after victims and witnesses and managing community tensions is substantially more complex now than three years ago," she said. "We have seen an increase in specific offences such as motoring offences, sex trafficking, and worker exploitation - a form of modern-day slavery. Our workload and its complexity is increasing. "Some parts of the country are no doubt unaffected by this. However, Cambridgeshire certainly is."


British universities being "bought"

Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, has warned the government that donations of hundreds of millions of pounds from Saudi Arabia and powerful Muslim organizations in Pakistan, Indonesia and the Gulf Straits have led to a "dangerous increase in the spread of extremism in leading university campuses". Eight of Britain's leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, have accepted more than 236 million pounds sterling, about $460 million, in donations from Muslim organizations, "many of which are known to have ties to extremist groups, some have links to terrorist organizations." The bulk of the donations have come in the past five years during a period when terrorist activities in Britain have increased. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced over the weekend that MI5 was now investigating "42 current terror threats and the possibility of attacks is increasingly real."

Universities that have accepted the money also include the London School of Economics, the City of London, Exeter and Dundee universities. All have a growing number of Muslim students. A major donation has included 20 million pounds sterling from the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to help establish the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, which will be affiliated to the university when it opens next year.

The MI5 claims follow a lengthy investigation that revealed 70 percent of political lectures at the Middle Eastern Center at St. Anthony’s College in Oxford were "implacably hostile to the West and Israel." The MI5 claims are reinforced by Prof. Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University's Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, a think-tank with close links to the Intelligence Services. "Up to 48 universities in Britain have been infiltrated by fundamentalists financed by Muslim groups. The potential threat this poses is obvious to the security of the country," Glees said.

However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown insists it is strategically "important to study Islam." He has authorized one million pounds sterling to be spent at the campuses on a counter radicalization drive.


Prince of Wales's guide to alternative medicine `inaccurate'

The Prince of Wales is being challenged today to withdraw two guides promoting alternative medicine, by scientists who say that they make misleading and inaccurate claims about its benefits. The documents, published by the Prince and his Foundation for Integrated Health, misrepresent scientific evidence about therapies such as homoeopathy, acupuncture and reflexology, say the authors of a new evaluation of alternative treatments.

In a letter to The Times, Edzard Ernst, Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, and Simon Singh, a science writer and broadcaster, call on the Prince to recall the publications, one of which was produced with a œ900,000 grant from the Department of Health. "They both contain numerous misleading and inaccurate claims concerning the supposed benefits of alternative medicine," they say. "The nation cannot be served by promoting ineffective and sometimes dangerous alternative treatments."

Professor Ernst and Dr Singh say the Prince accepted the importance of "rigorous scientific evidence" to alternative medicine, in an article he wrote for The Times in 2000, and point out that more than 4,000 research studies have since been published. They analysed these studies and previous research for their new book, Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial, finding that only a few treatments, such as some herbal medicines and acupuncture for pain relief, are backed up by the evidence that the Prince demanded. "The majority of alternative therapies appear to be clinically ineffective and many are downright dangerous," the letter says, and it calls on the Prince to withdraw the publications Complementary Health Care: A Guide for Patients and the Smallwood report.

The first document is a pamphlet, part-funded by the taxpayer, that gives advice on finding practitioners of alternative therapies. It is misleading, Professor Ernst said, because it includes disorders for which alternative remedies have been shown to be ineffective. It states, for example, that chi-ropractic is used to treat asthma, digestive disorders and migraine, when it has been shown by rigorous trials only to be useful for back pain. The guide also promotes acupuncture for addiction, when studies suggest that it has no benefit, and homoeopathy, which a major review for The Lancet has indicated works only as a placebo. "It explains what these therapies are used for, and that carries an implication that they work when the evidence suggests that many do not," Professor Ernst said.

The foundation has already withdrawn some sections of the pamphlet from its website, such as a claim that research has shown healing to have benefits for some medical conditions. The Smallwood report, commissioned by the Prince from Christopher Smallwood, an economist, argued that greater provision of alternative medicine on the NHS could save taxpayers' money. A study in the British Medical Journal has shown that only five research projects have examined the cost-effectiveness of alternative medicine, and all but one found that greater provision would add to costs.

Professor Ernst was consulted by Mr Smallwood, but said that his criticisms were ignored. Sir Michael Peat, the Prince's private secretary, accused Professor Ernst of breaching confidence by discussing a draft of the report with The Times. Natasha Finlayson, of the Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health, said: "We entirely reject the accusation that our online publication Complementary Healthcare: A Guide contains any misleading or inaccurate claims about the benefits of complementary therapies. On the contrary, it treats people as adults and takes a responsible approach by encouraging people to look at reliable sources of information . . . so that they can make informed decisions. The foundation does not promote complementary therapies."

Claims and counters

A Guide for Patients Chiropractic: used in disorders of musculoskeletal system such as spine, neck, shoulder problems. It may also be used for asthma

Professor Ernst: no good evidence for anything other than back pain

Acupuncture: increasingly used in trying to overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs and smoking.

The reliable evidence suggests it does not work for addictions

Cranial therapists: the conditions they treat range from acute to chronic health problems

No good evidence for any of this

Homoeopathy: most often used to treat chronic conditions such as asthma; eczema; fatigue disorders; migraine; menopausal problems; irritable bowel syndrome; Crohn's disease; allergies; repeated infections; depression.

Data do not show homoeopathic remedies to be more than placebos

Reflexologists: work with conditions including pain, chronic fatigue, sinusitis, arthritis, digestive problems, stress-related disorders and menopausal symptoms.

No good evidence for any of this

Reiki: used for physical, mental and emotional conditions

There is no good evidence that Reiki is effective for any condition

Shiatsu: used for a wide range of conditions, from injuries to more general symptoms of poor health

No good evidence for any of this

The Smallwood report Phytodolor: recommended for treatment of UK arthritis patients.

This German preparation is not available in the UK

Manipulative therapies: offer advantages over conventional treatments for lower back pain.

A Cochrane review concludes that there is no evidence that this spinal therapy is superior to other standard treatments


The Irish Model

Dean Godson reviews the memoirs of Jonathan Powell, the Tony Blair aide who helped negotiate the Irish power-sharing agreement.
One of the most striking things about the world according to Jonathan Powell is his approach to the role of the security forces in Northern Ireland. He treats the Army, in particular, as though it was another paramilitary faction to be squared - rather than as the legitimate arm of the state operating in support of civil power. Having spent thousands of hours with the Sinn Fein/IRA leadership, he starts talking like them. Thus, his vocabulary is littered with republican terminology such as `demilitarisation', `securocrats', `collusion' and `Volunteers'. As Powell observes of Blair and himself, `we were of a younger generation and the war against Irish terrorism was not our war'.

It's important to appreciate that many in the British government see this experience as a model for future dealings with radical Muslim groups in the Middle East and inside Europe. And they will be pushing that model on a President Obama - very hard and probably very successfully.

Indeed, one could say that in many ways the debate over Obama's proposals to talk to Iran is a proxy debate for this coming debate over applying the Irish model to Islamic extremism and terrorism. Talking to Iran after all is not really so radical a departure: The US is talking to Iran now, and has wanted to talk to Iran for years. The big issues are: Should the US be talking to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, and ultimately al Qaeda?

In today's Financial Times, columnist Philip Stephens channels the emerging British official view.
Democratic governments, for example, should always be willing to talk, albeit sometimes in secret, to their enemies, even when such contacts seem to offend common decency. Were Mr Powell still in 10 Downing Street, he would be advocating a dialogue with Hamas.

Rightly so. Talking is not the same as surrendering - nor, indeed, as negotiating. If terrorist groups do put their weapons to one side, Mr Powell continues, the imperative is to keep everyone in the room. This requires constant attention and engagement. Eventual success in Northern Ireland flowed from a strategy of "never letting the talking stop". There is a moral to be drawn here for the US administration's stop-go efforts to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. ...

Mr Blair [and Mr. Bush] sometimes spoke in ... Manichean terms [about Islamic terrorism] , evoking a global ideological struggle that could be with us for generations. The effect has been to impose a homogeneity on armed groups in the Islamic world that defies the realities of their very different aims and methods. ... In real life, there is a lot more light and shade. Not all Muslims - even among those prepared to use violence in pursuit of their cause - think alike. ...

To make such points is not to argue that the Islamist fundamentalism espoused by al-Qaeda and its associates is anything less than a serious threat. There are plenty of dangerous Islamists for whom the only response will be military force. Nor should western policy be held prisoner to its impact on Muslim opinion. Driving al-Qaeda from Afghanistan was the right thing to do.

Yet a mindset that lumps together Hizbollah with al-Qaeda, Hamas with Iraq's Shia militia or Kurdish separatists with the Taliban under the rubric of a single struggle is one that does al-Qaeda's bidding. It excludes recognition of genuine grievances, ignores the impact of western policy and rules out any prospect of some extremists being won over to politics.

The change of administration in Washington will give the US and its friends a chance to reflect and recalibrate. The starting point is to stop talking about a war.

I think a President Obama will find this point of view very appealing. In many ways, that is the true ballot question this November: Is it time for the US to stop fighting Islamic terrorists - and start negotiating with them? Time to quit dismissing their vision of the future as unacceptable - and to start treating it as debatable?


No comments: