Tory MP suggests people from ‘certain communities’ commit disproportionate crime
A new Tory MP has faced criticism after suggesting people from "certain communities" commit a disproportionate amount of crime in his seat.
Tom Hunt, who won Ipswich from Labour last month, was accused of "ill-judged dogwhistling" for a column in his local newspaper.
Mr Hunt did not say in his column – or a defence of it – which "communities" he was referring to.
But approached by the Mirror today, he suggested he was referring to groups of Eastern European mean in Ipswich town centre.
The 31-year-old said: “One of the things I mentioned in my article was groups of young men in the town centre – often 20, 30, acting in a certain way which makes other people in the town feel uncomfortable.
Asked if that was the community he was talking about he replied: “For example, if you look at the comments made by Police Superintendent Kerry Cutler from Suffolk, she made the comment that actually in lots of Eastern European communities, particularly the Roma community, lots of young men tend to socialise in large groups in the town centre.
“So that’s just – it just seems as though that’s just something they tend to do.”
The MP's column last Friday in the East Anglian Daily Times said: "It is impossible to start thinking about remedies to these issues without also being ready to confront the possibility that a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by individuals from certain communities.
"This is something we should be open and honest about. Brushing it under the carpet will not get us closer to solving the issue.
"Unfortunately, calling things how they are has not been a quality which we have come to expect from many in positions of responsibility on these matters.
"People who should know better are too quick to spout to politically correct mantras and too slow to call out problems in certain communities, hindering our ability to get to the bottom of the issue and leaving many residents and victims feeling like they don't have a voice."
It went on to attack "politically correct mantras" and warn against being "eternally tolerant of bad behaviour which may be rife in other countries."
It added: "We must acknowledge the many benefits of immigration and respect people's different cultural backgrounds while insisting that those who join our community meet us halfway when it comes to integration.
"This includes learning English, respecting women and obeying our laws."
A spokesman for the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality told the East Anglian Daily Times the article was "at best disappointing and at worst an ill-judged piece of dogwhistling."
The group added: "Tom Hunt refers to 'certain communities' and the need for 'action….based on the facts as we see them', in relation to crime in our county town.
"Yet, his article is entirely evidence-free, which raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions about his purpose in writing it."
Mr Hunt hit back today, saying it was "unacceptable" and untrue to accuse him of racism.
But he admitted: “I think yeah, it’s an argument to say that I should have been more specific about what I meant.”
He added: "What I was actually looking to talk about was anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
"And then I looked at this particular issue, and I think the fact is that it could be the case that in the country they’ve come from, that was okay to socialise in those large groups and act a certain way in the town centre.
"But in Ipswich it’s not. And I think it’s just a matter of addressing that.”
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