`Racist` plan to ban foreign students from UK shops sparks row

It provoked scorn and a welter of protest from people across Britain who branded it as `racist and ridiculous`.

Updated: Jan 10, 2012, 22:38 PM IST

London: A plan to restrict the entry of foreign students into shops to combat rampant shop-lifting and theft in Britain`s south-western coastal city of Plymouth has sparked an outrage, with residents and immigrants branding it
as "racist".

The plan, mentioned in a public document of the Plymouth City Council, was put forth by Clint Jones, manager of the Plymouth City Centre Company (PCCC).

It provoked scorn and a welter of protest from people across Britain who branded it as `racist and ridiculous`.

The plan envisaged `special stickers` in shops restricting the entry of students at any one time.

"Over the past five years we have seen in Plymouth, especially the city centre area, a large influx of foreign students. Feedback received from retailers has been that they have experienced an increase in shoplifting and anti-social
behaviour from foreign students, incurring large financial losses," the plan states.

Leaders in Plymouth today apologised following an uproar over the plan to prevent shop-lifting and theft by restricting the number of foreign students who can enter local shops.

Jones today apologised, and said the plan mentioned in a report by Plymouth Against Retail Crime (PARC) would not be implemented in Plymouth, and added that details of the plan should never have been in the public domain.

Language schools in Plymouth attract a large number of foreign students.

Jones said the `action plan` mentioned in the document was merely a suggestion.

He admitted it was true there was a "correlation between summer and an increase in shoplifting" but insisted "to lay that at the gate of foreign students is wrong".

As for the special stickers, he said "we would never, ever allow that. It is completely discriminating.”?

"Plymouth City Centre Company can categorically state that none of the suggested actions within the report by Plymouth Against Retail Crime (PARC) in relation to foreign students will be implemented in Plymouth," a statement
released by the PCCC said.

"These early suggestions, first discussed in September last year by PARC members, were deemed wholly inappropriate by Plymouth City Centre Company and the police. Having already been dismissed, their inclusion in a report to the City Council was an oversight for which we apologise," it said.

Plymouth, the statement said, was home to scores of language schools where thousands of students were welcome each year.

"We continue to work closely with language schools to ensure that students feel welcome, enjoy our city and have all the information they need for a safe and responsible stay," the PCCC added.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said this issue"has been taken completely out of context and risks damaging the very real and valuable work we do with language schools".