Foreign National Offenders: Prison Transfers — [Ian Austin in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 19 February 2019.

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Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering 4:00, 19 February 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered prison transfers of foreign national offenders.

It is a joy to see you in the Chair, Sir Edward. I thank Mr Speaker for granting me this debate, and I welcome the Minister and his team to the Chamber.

Believe it or not, we have something like 160 nations of the world represented in our prisons. About one third of those individuals have been convicted of violent and/or sexual offences, about one fifth have been convicted on drug charges, and others have been responsible for burglary, fraud, robbery and other serious crimes.

[Ian Austin in the Chair]

Some years ago, the National Audit Office did an estimate of the cost to the British taxpayer of incarcerating those people in our jails, and came out with a cost per year per prisoner of something like £33,000. When we add to that the cost of the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, legal aid and other things, the total bill could be something between £750 million and £1 billion a year. The National Audit Office came down somewhere in the middle of that range, and estimated the annual cost to the taxpayer to be about £850 million a year. That assumes that there are about 10,000 foreign national offenders in our jails.

I first ask the Minister, given that he is attended by a galaxy of civil service talent, who no doubt have the numbers at their fingertips, what is the present prison population today? Of the total number of prisoners, how many foreign national offenders do we have in our prisons today? I reckon the present prison population is something like 85,000, and that there are about 10,000 foreign national offenders in our prisons. Of those 10,000, what proportion come from the European Union—I think the figure is about 4,000—and how many come from non-EU countries?

Can the Minister confirm these estimates of what I call the list of shame—the top 10 countries that are represented in our prisons? I reckon that No. 1 is Poland with about 950. No. 2 is Ireland with 750. No. 3 is Romania with 630. No. 4 is Jamaica with 550. In joint fifth, sixth and seventh place are Albania, Lithuania and Pakistan with about 475 each. No. 8 is India with 450. No. 9 is Somalia with 425. No. 10 is Nigeria with 400. In total, I reckon that the top 10 nations in our prisons total something like 5,580 foreign national offenders. My contention is that those people should not be incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure; they should be in prison in their own countries at the expense of their own taxpayers. Her Majesty’s Government are not doing nearly enough to send those people back to prisons in their own countries.