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busted abroad

An Irish person was arrested every four hours in London last year

Figures released exclusively to show how many Irish citizens were arrested in the British capital in 2015.

shutterstock_296525768 The Met Police Shutterstock / 1000 Words Shutterstock / 1000 Words / 1000 Words

ON 5 JANUARY last year Irishman Paul O’Shea was arrested in London.

Three days earlier he had beaten and stabbed two men to death before attempting to cover up the evidence by setting fire to the flat they had been in.

Five months later in May, Irish plumber Hugh Doyle was among eight men arrested on conspiracy to burgle following a £200 million cash, gold and jewel heist.

These two were the most high-profile arrests against Irish people by London’s Metropolitan Police in 2015.

There were 2,497 others.

While Ireland enjoys a strong relationship with the UK – it’s our most popular tourist destination and almost 20,000 of us emigrated there last year – it comes with a darker side, as thousands of Irish citizens are arrested each year in the UK’s capital city.

Figures released exclusively to under the Freedom of Information Act reveal how many Irish people were detained for crimes ranging from petty theft to murder.


What do the stats tell us?

The stats show the overall number of arrests. So if a person is arrested, released and then detained again for the same crime, it counts as two arrests.

The figures break down like this: 2,499 total arrests were made in 2015, working out as seven a day or an arrest on an Irish person every four hours. 

Last year in London, a total of 733,383 crimes were committed in the 12 months to the end of December.

Taking these figures together, Irish citizens were arrested in connection with 0.34% of crimes committed in London last year. 

What crimes were we arrested for the most?

A large proportion of the arrests of Irish people were made in connection with assaults.

The total number came to 623, made up of the following categories: 

  • Common assault: 284
  • Actual bodily harm (ABH): 211
  • Affray: 109
  • Assault on a police officer: 17
  • Assault on a police community support officer: 17

Top ten crimes

Looking at the top 10 offences that Irish people were arrested on suspicion of last year, four of the assault categories were featured.

The list being rounded out by theft from a shop; offences related to being wanted on a warrant; drunk and disorderly behaviour; public order offences; burglary of dwelling; and criminal damage to a dwelling. 


Murder, rape and guns 

Besides the areas that traditionally see high levels of crime, a smaller (but still substantial) number of suspected Irish offenders were arrested for more serious offences.

There were five arrests for firearms offences, two arrests for murder (although 26 for the threat of murder), and 19 for rape, with one for an attempted rape.

There were also more than 50 arrests for intent to supply Class A drugs.

Are we really that bad? 

High as these figures might seem, it is hard to infer any meaning without some context. 

To give us a better idea, we can compare Irish citizens being arrested in connection with 0.34% total crimes in the city last year with the Irish population in the city.

Irish people in the Greater London area (which accounts for around three fifths of the Met Police’s jurisdiction when measured by population) make up 2.2% of the total population, meaning that by nationality, we’re arrested in connection with less than our fair share of crimes.

Even for violence against the person, an area of crime that the Irish in London would seem to be more prolific in, we still ‘underperformed’ in relation to the overall amount of crime committed.

The Met Police consider violence against the person as:

  • Murder
  • Harassment
  • Common assault
  • ABH
  • GBH (grievous bodily harm)
  • Possession of an offensive weapon
  • Other violence.

Irish people were arrested for these crimes a total of 434 times, only 0.2% of the total of 220,228 of crimes committed against the person in London in 2015.

crime london The Met Police's crime map of London Metropolitan Police Metropolitan Police

What happens after they’re arrested? 

Irish citizens in London have gone on to face various fates after their arrests. A large number - 743 - were released without any further action being taken.

1,059 of the arrested were either held in custody or bailed prior to court appearances. A further 125 were held on a warrant prior to appearing in court.

209 were let off with cautions, 24 committed crimes serious enough to result in them being brought directly to prison and one solitary individual managed to escape from police custody.

Those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law while in London should know that they’re not on their own. 

In response to the figures featured in this article, the Department of Foreign Affairs told

Our staff offer non-judgemental advice and practical help to Irish citizens who have been detained, without regard to the nature of the alleged offence, whether they are innocent or guilty, on remand or already sentenced by a court of law.”

More details on the consular assistance on offer to Irish citizens can be found here.

Graphs by Dan MacGuill @danmacg

Read: The strange tale of the spy who came in from the cold and drank some tea

Also: ‘My kebab is cold’: Police in the UK release list of most ridiculous phone calls

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