The Latest: German police dispute nationalists' crime claim

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) " The Latest on migrants and refugees entering Europe and member countries' response to the inflow (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Police in Germany have rebuked a nationalist party which claimed official statistics show refugees are more likely to commit crimes than Germans.

Alternative for Germany, which has surged to third place in recent polls by campaigning against migrants, cited police figures to claim that per capita crimes among refugees are almost double those committed by Germans.

The Federal Police Office said Friday that its statistics don't allow for such a conclusion because the figures for migrants can't be compared to the population as a whole.

Instead, police cited a separate study which focused specifically on "crime in the context of migration." It showed a decline in crimes committed by migrants during the first three quarters of 2016.

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4:30 p.m.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says his government's working to facilitate deportation of migrants denied asylum. But he is also determined to develop ways like humanitarian corridors so migrants avoid human traffickers.

His interior minister, Marco Minniti, told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Friday that Italy is adding 250 specialists to asylum commissions to "drastically" reduce wait times from asylum request to final decision, which now averages two years.

With national elections looming perhaps as early as this year, the center-left government is sensitive to populist leaders fueling citizens' fears over hundreds of thousands of migrants rescued at sea by Italy in recent years. Many migrants don't receive asylum but slip away before deportation.

Minniti also said communities, working with government officials, can put asylum-seekers to work for free if migrants agree.

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3:10 p.m.

A charity is taking the British government to court over its decision to close a program bringing unaccompanied child migrants to the U.K. from Europe.

The government has announced it will close the scheme after 350 children came to Britain " far fewer than the 3,000 originally expected under a law passed to help some of the tens of thousands of migrant children across Europe.

Help Refugees is asking the High Court in London to overturn the decision. Lawyer Rosa Curling says the number of children helped was "woefully low" and it was unlawful to limit it to 350.

Judge James Holman said Friday he would aim to hear the case in May.

U.N. refugee agency spokesman William Spindler says "hundreds of children's lives have been saved" through the generosity of local communities and authorities in Britain.

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2 p.m.

Dutch police say they discovered nine migrants hiding in a refrigerated truck near the country's border with Belgium, after one of the migrants called officers because the group was so cold.

Police said in a statement Friday that the migrants were tracked down Thursday night by keeping the migrant's phone line open and having police cars drive past parked trucks near the border. Police was able to narrow the search area because the migrant told authorities he believed the truck had just crossed from Belgium into the Netherlands.

The migrants, three men and three women from Vietnam and three men from Iraq, were taken into care by authorities. Police say they were cold but none required medical treatment. The truck's Spanish driver was detained by police.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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