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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Migrants linked to crime?
By Janey Doyle
BBC News, Cambridge

Ugar Saffer, Bangkok City restaurant
Ugar Saffer said knife crime was an increasing problem in the city
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is struggling to cope with increased pressures brought by an influx of migrant workers, according to the force's chief constable.

In Cambridge city centre there is an acceptance crime is on the increase - but do residents lay any blame on the foreign workers who live in the area?

Ugar Saffer, is the 29-year-old manager of the Bangkok City restaurant. Mr Saffer, was born and raised in the city, by a Turkish Cypriot family.

He said: "Yes, crime is a big issue, but I think police are exaggerating the numbers of migrants involved.

"As for crime, in the last week there has been a stabbing and a robbery - as a father I'm more wary."

Lindsay Birkett, Hero clothing
Lindsay Birkett: Only concern is "language skills"

Mr Saffer said he had seen crime increase over recent years, particularly knife crime, but he did not think this was due to an increase in migrants.

"It's just a change in society, the majority of foreigners are not going against the law," he says.

His opinion is shared by Gee Franklin, manager of La Raza tapas bar.

"There are teenage youths shouting, swearing in the area - that is the only influx of crime I've witnessed," he says.

'Help with languages'

Both Mr Franklin and Mr Saffer employ migrant workers - Greek, Portuguese, Thai and Polish among them.

"I have employees from a range of countries, all skills based. If they have good communication skills with customers then I am more than happy to employ them," Mr Franklin says.

"We have a Greek barman who is fluent in Spanish and French, he is good with tourists - it helps having people who can help with languages."

A language barrier is the only issue which would stop Lindsay Birkett, manager of Hero, an independent clothing shop, employing migrant workers, she says.

Cambridge city centre
Migrant workers are welcomed at businesses in Cambridge

But unease towards migrant workers is present in the city.

Andy Barhar, who works as a civil engineer, says migrants are impacting on his work.

"They seem to be taking all the jobs, it's pretty hard to get more money," the 42-year-old adds.

Graham, a homeless Big Issue seller, is originally from Chesterfield, but has been living in the city for six years and has seen a change.

"Over the last few months, immigrants have even been going into the Big Issue office and signing up," he says.

"I've looked for jobs but there's nothing available as immigrants are willing to work for a lot less money."

'Too many drunks'

Hungarian Viktor Tokes has been in the city for a year. He did a language course, and decided to stay on in the city and work.

"Some people are aggressive, some people are not. When it comes to fighting, half the time it's foreigners, half it's English.

"There are too many drunks and it's English fighting the English."

Julie Spence Cambridgeshire chief constable
Julie Spence said Cambridgeshire had changed dramatically

Mr Tokes works as a barman at The Cow pub alongside 22-year-old James Pace, who was brought up in the city.

Mr Pace said he thinks Cambridge feels unsafe, but it's the actions of the police force and not migrants that are to blame.

"There are too many community support officers and the police are never where the trouble is.

"If you compare Cambridge city centre with other smaller cities, Exeter for example, there isn't enough police, you don't feel safe.

"At a bar I was working in, a Polish girl came in drunk and said she had left her shoes there, and we said: 'Sorry we can't find them.

"But she wouldn't leave, she attacked door staff when they tried to send her home.

"We called the police and they checked she was OK, without checking once if we, who had called them, were OK - it's an appalling state."

English 'aggressive'

Tony Wong Suwan 26, from Thailand, is a waiter at Ugar Saffer's restaurant, who has been in the city for seven months as a university student.

"The first month here, I stayed at the YMCA and my bike was broken by a drunk and the lady running the YMCA told me not to walk past the park at night as you can get robbed," he says.

"Walking on the street English people are aggressive when they see foreigners.

"I don't feel safe and I feel the police don't really care."




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