Removal of Foreign National Offenders and EU Prisoners

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 6th June 2016.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:35 pm, 6th June 2016

Since 2010, the Government have removed over 30,000 foreign national offenders, including 5,692 in 2015-16—the highest number since records began. The number of removals to other EU countries has more than tripled, from 1,019 in 2010-11 to 3,451 in 2015-16. We aim to deport all foreign national offenders at the earliest opportunity; however, legal or re-documentation barriers can frustrate immediate deportation. Increased rates of detection can also lead to the population of foreign national offenders increasing despite a record number of removals.

Over 6,500 of the FNOs in the UK are still serving a custodial sentence. The Ministry of Justice has been working to remove EU prisoners under the EU prisoner transfer framework decision, which is a compulsory means of prisoner transfer that allows us to send foreign criminals back to their home country to serve their sentence. The record number of FNO deportations we have achieved has been due to changes made by the Government. We have reset the balance between article 8 of the European convention on human rights and the public interest in deportation cases. We have also introduced a “deport first, appeal later” power, which means foreign national offenders may appeal against deportation only from their home country, unless they will face a real risk of serious irreversible harm there. More than 3,500 foreign national offenders have been removed since that came into force in July 2014, and many more are going through the system.

The police now routinely carry out checks for overseas criminal convictions on foreign nationals who are arrested, and refer them for deportation. In 2015, the UK made over 100,000 requests for EU criminal record checks—an increase of 1,100% compared with 2010—and in December, the European Council agreed that conviction data relating to terrorists and serious and organised criminals should be shared systematically. We must never give up trying to improve our ability to deal with FNOs and tackle the barriers to deportation: we have just legislated to GPS-tag FNOs who are subject to a deportation order, and we are legislating to establish an FNO’s nationality as early as possible to avoid delays during deportation proceedings.

Before 2010, there was no plan for deporting foreign national offenders. Their rights were given a greater priority than the rights of the public here, and they were routinely abusing the appeals system to avoid deportation. This Government have put in place a strategy for removing foreign national offenders, which is increasing removals, protecting the public and saving the taxpayer money.