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British cities could be hit by rioting because of an influx of Roma migrants, David Blunkett has warned.

The former Home Secretary said ‘frictions’ with local people could lead racial tensions to ‘explode’ in a repeat of the riots that rocked Northern towns in the summer of 2001.

Mr Blunkett called on Roma migrants from Slovakia to ‘change their culture’ because their dumping of rubbish and refusal to send their children to school had caused ‘understandable tensions’ with residents in his home city of Sheffield.

Sheffield citizens have already set up street patrols to combat anti-social behaviour by the Roma. Britain is home to more than 200,000 Roma migrants, most of them from Eastern Europe.

‘If everything exploded, if things went wrong, the community would obviously be devastated,’ Mr Blunkett said.


‘We saw this is Bradford, Burnley and Oldham all those years ago when I first became Home Secretary. If things implode it’s not outside here that cops it, it’s the community.’

On that occasion more than 200 people were jailed after racial tensions erupted and Asian communities clashed with far-Right groups such as the National Front.

Mr Blunkett claimed that the cultural gulf between the community in Sheffield and the Roma was far greater than that between white Britons and Pakistani immigrants.

He said: ‘The Roma youngsters have come from a background even more different culturally, because they were living in the edge of woods, not going to school, not used to the norms of everyday life. We’ve got to change that.’

Mr Blunkett said locals were entitled to ‘grumble’ about the large influx of migrants from Roma communities, but they should not ‘stir up hate’. ‘I wouldn’t want other people to put up with things I wouldn’t put up with myself,’ he said. ‘This is nothing to do with criticising people about being racist. By all means grumble, but don’t stir up hate. If you set a fire alight, you came from Bradford, you saw it – nobody gained from that.’

Mr Blunkett said the ‘understandable tensions’ between locals and Roma were evidence of a ‘cry for help from very, many people’ who want the authorities to intervene and return their communities to ‘the semblance we had before’.

The former Home Secretary called on the police to persuade Roma people ‘not to spend all their time in the street’ and discourage them from throwing rubbish.

He accused the Government of having its ‘head in the sand’ over the true numbers of Roma in Britain. In 2011, official estimates suggested ‘relatively few Roma citizens’ lived in the UK.

The Mail yesterday quoted the mayor of two Romanian villages as saying half of their residents will move to the UK when restrictions are lifted in January.

Koller Gabriel-Adrian said he believed ‘50 per cent’ of the 1,100 people in poverty-stricken Berini and Uliuc could travel to Britain in search of higher salaries – and the generous welfare system – in the New Year. He added: ‘In January, the only thing left in the village will be the goat.’

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