Foreign prisoners face transfer under new plans

Thousands of foreign prisoners will be sent back to serve their sentences in their own countries under Government plans, it emerged today.

With more than 11,000 foreign inmates in a prison population of about 85,000, as many as possible should be transferred to serve their sentences in their own country, the Ministry of Justice said.

The move is part of plans to cut the prison population by 3,000 by 2014-15, but could be hampered by prisoner transfer agreements which require the consent of the prisoner and by human rights objections from inmates.

Prime Minister David Cameron will spearhead the initiative, the Daily Mail reported.

It comes after reports that Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to close six jails in England and Wales as his ministry seeks to cut its budget by almost a quarter.

The Ministry of Justice said it was "right that those who enter the UK and abuse our hospitality should face the full weight of the law, and where necessary go to prison".

But "foreign national offenders who have no right to remain in the UK will be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity", a spokesman said.

"The Government believes that wherever possible foreign national prisoners should serve their sentences in their own country."

Foreign prisoners are currently removed under prisoner transfer agreements with other countries, an early removal scheme which allows them to be released up to 270 days early if they agree to be deported immediately, or after their sentences have ended.

A total of 5,530 foreign national prisoners were deported or removed from the UK last year, but just 41 of these were under under prisoner transfer agreements.

An EU prisoner transfer agreement, which comes into force next year, will not require the consent of the prisoner and could enable the return of many more people to EU countries.

Speaking in a Commons debate on the issue in June, Prisons Minister Crispin Blunt admitted it was an area where "progress has been stuttering".

"The issue is bureaucratically complicated and difficult," he said.

He shared frustrations that "foreign national prisoners who have no links to the United Kingdom are still not routinely transferred to prisons in their own country", he said.

Of the 11,367 foreign national prisoners, 7,824 were convicted, serving their sentences and could be considered for transfer to their own country.

"Yet in 2009, with this large number of foreign national prisoners in our prisons, we managed to transfer 41 back to prisons in their own country and we received 64 British prisoners back," he said.

"While the proportions are striking, so is the feebleness of the overall number. I have asked my officials to pursue all possible options for increasing that number."

Mr Blunt added the numbers were "pathetically small".

Problems included the fact that the vast majority of the transfer arrangements have been in place "for some time and require the consent of the prisoner, without which the prisoners cannot be transferred".

"I have asked my officials to investigate the scope for renegotiating arrangements on the basis of compulsory transfer," he said

"Although we may not be able to achieve compulsory transfer arrangements in all cases, we should do so wherever we can."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot