Asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are charged with twice as much crime as Norwegian citizens relative to population, a report by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has revealed.
The Local reports that 1 in 50 cases of crime committed in 2010 involved either an asylum seeker or an illegal resident, according to the report conducted by Oxford Research on behalf of the UDI. This accounted for 2.5 percent of all crime charges in Norway in 2010, a figure that “is so little that it has minimal significance to the big picture of crime in Norway,” according to the report’s authors Dag Ellingsen and Sigmund Book.
However, when the total crimes charged to those groups are calculated as a percentage of the total population of those groups, it emerges that they are charged with more than twice as many crimes as Norwegian citizens are. There were estimated to be 18,000 asylum seekers or immigrants without visas in Norway in 2010.
The report comes in the same week as Norway’s justice minister announced that his department plans to rent space in prisons in Netherlands to cope with an overcrowding problem in Norway’s prisons.
Around 300 prisoners are expected to be exported to jails across the Netherlands, following urgent repair work in some Norwegian prisons leading to them being temporarily closed, and a backlog of prisoners waiting for spaces.
“We inherited a challenging situation from the last government with too few prison cells,” said justice minister Anders Anundsen in a press statement. “In order to expand capacity in the short term, we have started a dialogue with Dutch authorities on renting prison cells in the Netherlands. At the moment, the backlog in Norway is at 1,300 custodial sentences and there is a great demand for prison space.
“In the dialogues we’ve had with the Netherlands so far, we hope to reach an agreement on simply renting prison cells in the Netherlands, but on Norwegian terms; with a Norwegian warden, and conducting penalties according to Norwegian legislation.”
Fred Teeven, Netherlands’ state secretary with responsibility for prisons, said in a letter to the Dutch parliament: “In Norway there is a capacity shortage, and right now we have a surplus.”
The Netherlands already rents prison spaces to Belgium, but this is the first such deal done with a country not on its border.