According to a recent study by Statistics Iceland, Icelandic residents of Polish origin committed the fewest crimes in Iceland in 2006 compared to other residents—fewer than Icelandic natives—0.52 percent versus 0.73 percent respectively.
The results contradict common beliefs, that Icelanders are more law-abiding than Poles. Witek Bogdanski, director of the Association of Poles in Iceland told 24 Stundir that such prejudice is often caused by media coverage.
“If a man hits another man the reporter never reveals whether he is from Kópavogur or not, but if he is a foreigner it is always included in the report,” Bogdanski said.
Einar J. Skúlason, managing director of Ahus, the Intercultural Center in Reykjavík, agrees. He pointed out that according to a study undertaken by the Media Watch in 2006, there are more negative than positive stories about Icelandic residents of foreign origin.
“Each journalist has to evaluate whether the nationality of the individual he or she is reporting on is important for the story or not […]. To my knowledge journalists are especially careful when they report on foreigners, namely so they won’t encourage prejudice,” said head of the Journalist Association of Iceland (BÍ) Arna Schram.
In the Statistics Iceland study, individuals charged with a crime in 2006 were grouped together according to their citizenship and their number was then divided with the number of Icelandic residents sharing that same citizenship.
In 2006, 2,095 Icelanders out of 288,850 were charged with a crime (0.73 percent of all Icelandic natives), while 31 Icelandic residents holding a Polish passport out of 5,914 in total were charged with a crime in 2006 (0.52 percent).
That same year, 21 Lithuanians living in Iceland out of 983 were charged with a crime (2.14 percent), 11 Brits out of 411 (2.68 percent) and nine Danes out of 943 (0.95 percent).
Tourists were, however, also included in the study, so Statistics Iceland assumes that the percentage of Icelandic residents of foreign origin who were charged with a crime in 2006 is even lower than the study indicates.