The Norwegian paper The Local reported in September that asylum seekers and illegal immigrants (euphemistically called "persons living in Norway without papers") are over-represented in the country's crime statistics:
Asylum seekers and visa-less immigrants in Norway are charged with twice as many crimes per head of population as Norwegians, but still account for a very small proportion of overall criminality, a new report has said. [Emphasis added]The authors of the report from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), in the typical, apologetic style of officialdom, felt compelled to add: "This is so little that it has minimal significance to the big picture of crime in Norway." This reservation echoes the way in which in Britain figures are twisted and contorted to portray immigration, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, as economically beneficial to the UK.
But on this occasion there has been a sort of social experiment carried out in Norway in the last couple of years, that empirically disproves the "minimal significance to the big picture of crime" fabrication.
Norwegians have progressively become aware of the link between crime and immigration. A November 2013 survey revealed that over half of the capital Oslo's residents feared street crime due to the rise in muggings. It got so bad that even the new Prime Minister, Conservative Erna Solberg, declared that immigrant parents should control their mugger kids.
Oslo saw 120 robberies in October , more than any other city in Scandinavia. There were just 78 robberies recorded in Copenhagen and only 63 in Stockholm.That something has started to change in Europe is obvious from the response from Norway's immigrant politicians, who agreed that young gang members are mostly foreigners and their parents could do more.
"I think actually Erna's hit the nail on the head here," said Abid Raja from the Liberal Party. "It's time to get past worries over making immigrant parents feel stigmatized. It is mainly young people from immigrant community who commit these robberies."Action followed words. Last year the brand new government elected in Autumn - a minority coalition of Conservatives with the right-wing, anti-immigration, populist Progress Party, that has replaced a Labour government - started cracking down on immigration.
Progress, created 40 years ago, is in government for the first time.
Among the tougher measures implemented was that deported foreign criminals who return to Norway now face 2 years’ jail, a 10-fold increase in the penalty from 35 days, a measure that had the unanimous support from all parties.
But the most important policy introduced has been the vast increase in number of deportations.
In 2013, a record number of 5,198 foreign citizens were expelled from the country, an increase of 31% from 2012, when 3,958 people were deported.
Frode Forfang, head of the UDI, put it simply: "We believe that one reason for the increase is that the police have become more conscious of using deportation as a tool to fight crime.”
The number of deportations increases from one year to the next and one month to the other.
In October 2014, 824 people were forced out, which is the highest number of people deported in a month in the history of Norway’s National Police Immigration Service (PU).
This has established a new record, beating the previous record set in the month before, September 2014, with 763 deportations.
The National Police Immigration Service (Politiets Utlendingsenhet) has released latest figures showing in the last six months [from the article's date, 3 July 2014] an average of 18 illegal immigrants per day were deported from Norway. This figure is up from 13 deportations for the same period last year.What has the result been?
The main reasons for deportations are people not having valid residence visas or being involved in crime. During the first half year this year, 3,167 people were forced out of Norway, 1,237 of whom had criminal convictions, newspaper Dagbladet reports.
Kristin Ottesen Kvigne, head of the police immigration service, told the newspaper: "We are at our highest number of illegal immigrants ever and deportation is a policy the government wants".
The service has a target of 7,100 people to be deported by the end of 2014.
PU head Kristin Kvigne, in an interview with the Dagsavisen newspaper, said that the increased deportations save Norwegian society much money. It costs money to try people in the courts and to jail them.
She explained that people have been deported because their asylum applications have been rejected in terms of the Dublin Agreement, the international agreement which governs asylum seeker applications.
If the current trend continues, the PU will “reach its target” of deporting at least 7,100 people this year, meaning that at least 20 per day are being sent home.
Of the 5876 people deported this year so far, the majority have already been found guilty of criminal acts, Kvigne said. She said it was thus “important to view the high number of deportations made by PU in the context of falling crime rates across the country.”
She said that Norway has a voluntary repatriation program, where “asylum seekers” are paid to return to their home countries, but few take up the offer and most have to be forcibly deported.