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 Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Home Secretary 3:35 pm, 6th June 2016

While I congratulate Sir William Cash on securing this question, I hope that he will not be too offended that I do not agree with every word of his opportunistic election broadcast on behalf of the leave campaign. Is it not plainly the case that this is not an EU question but a question of the competence, or lack of it, of his Government and his Home Secretary? As last week’s Select Committee report makes clear, while there has been progress on the deportation of foreign national offenders, it has been too slow.

Does the Home Secretary agree with what the Prime Minster told the Liaison Committee in May? He said that she and the Home Office “should have done better” on this issue. This is not the first time that the Home Secretary has been warned about these failings. In the last Parliament, the National Audit Office found that more than a third of failed removals were the result of factors within the Home Office’s control. Despite that, we now learn that the problem is getting worse, not better, in some areas. The Select Committee said that it was deeply concerned that there were nearly 6,000 foreign national offenders living in the community—the highest figure since 2012. Can the Home Secretary explain why the figure is so high? How many of those people are still subject to active deportation proceedings, and what is she doing to bring the figure down? She urgently needs to get a grip on the issue.

Does the Home Secretary agree that it is much easier to do that while remaining part of the European Union, and that leaving would make it harder to deport people? Is it not the case that the prisoner transfer agreement at least provides a framework to speed up the process and that country-to-country deals are far harder to achieve? Is it not also true that our access to the Schengen information system and the European criminal records information system helps us to stop criminals arriving here, and the European arrest warrant means that they can be brought to justice?

Finally, would not the British people be better off listening to the two former Met commissioners and other senior police who, at the weekend, said that our membership of the EU helps us to fight crime, rather than to the unpleasant scaremongering of the leave campaign?