Backbench Business

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:12 pm on 20th April 2017.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Labour, Leicester East 3:12 pm, 20th April 2017

That is a huge loss to British policing. I will not say it is because of the cuts, because obviously there was an ethical issue, but the hon. Gentleman will be missed, and I hope there will be an opportunity for Parliament to acknowledge his great success. We must put up a plaque or something to recognise his great achievement. He will be sorely missed by British policing and we will look carefully at the next set of crime figures to see whether they have gone up as a result of his retirement.

I have one final point—I hope the Minister will cover it because there is time—about foreign national offenders, including some in our prisons and some subject to the European arrest warrant. I cannot understand why that great invention that allows people to be transferred immediately before they have been convicted of any offence has prevented the European Union from taking back its own nationals from our prisons. The latest figures show that there are 4,217 EU offenders in the UK, costing £169 million a year to the British taxpayer. The top three countries are Poland, with 983, Ireland with 764 and Romania with 635. The EAW is a device by which nationals can be removed immediately, without any restraint, subject to the limited bar that the Prime Minister introduced when she was Home Secretary, but all those foreign national offenders are sitting in our prisons and cannot be removed to other countries, although they cost the taxpayer a huge amount of money. I hope that, at the very least, the Minister will tell us what is happening, and that it will be that there is light at the end of the tunnel with respect to offenders and those who have been arrested.

Unlike other Members present for the debate—I know that the Chair is impartial, so we will not mention how he voted—I did not see many opportunities in Brexit, but in the present instance we have a big opportunity to go into the negotiations and iron out the problems. I am for keeping the principle of the European arrest warrant, but we should iron out the difficulties that obviously exist, so that we can reassure parliamentary colleagues, many of whom have raised the matter of the EAW in the past, that, post-March 2019, we will have a good system that recognises the need to arrest criminals, but that also recognises the rights of people who have committed no offence and who, under the present process are, in all innocence, being arrested. Let us keep the benefits and reduce the burdens.